Central Kootenay Food Policy Council to give residents voice in local food system

Central Kootenay Food Policy Council to give residents voice in local food system

The region’s new food policy council met for the first time last week and is ready to engage Central Kootenay residents on food issues.

The region’s new food policy council met for the first time last week and is ready to engage Central Kootenay residents on food issues.

The Central Kootenay Food Policy Council (CKFPC) is an independent non-profit organization with close ties to local government. It was made possible with funding provided by the Real Estate Foundation of BC, Interior Health, the Osprey Foundation, Community Futures Central Kootenay and directors of the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK).

“The group was formed because of a demand at the local government level,” explained Ari Derfel, the council member representing Blewett and chosen to speak with the media.

The council’s mandate includes uniting regional players already involved in food issues, and addressing local food needs.

“Through ties with the local government largely at the level of the RDCK and sub-governmental groups we’re basically working to serve as a forum for discussing food issues and opportunities to try to foster more coordination between various sectors that are part of the food system,” said Derfel.

The council defines a food system as “the place, relationships and activities that connect people to their food,” which includes production, processing, distribution, access, consumption and food waste.

The council will also evaluate and influence policy as it relates directly to food and the food systems, determine food systems priorities for people in the region, and where budget permits and time permits, launch or support programs and services that address local needs, so long as they don’t compete with existing or pending initiatives.

There are currently 24 members on the council, with two spots reserved one for a commercial farmer from Creston Valley and the other for a member of the Yaqan Nukiy (Lower Columbia Band) of the Ktunaxa Nation.

Members represent both municipalities and rural areas in the region, including Castlegar, Nelson, Blewett, Creston, Invermere, Krestova, Nakusp, New Denver, Procter, Riondel, Shoreacres, Winlaw, Area B, Area D and Area H.

They also come from a variety of backgrounds related to food issues.

Derfel’s background is in entrepreneurship, as well as promoting investment in food systems.

“I was in the restaurant industry in San Francisco and Berkeley, [Cali.] for many years, and our focus was seasonal, organic restaurants that made carnivores and vegetarians equals at the table, so it was all about trying to continue to push sustainability while making it affordable,” said Derfel. “So I come at it from that perspective, but I also spent almost two years running a national US organization called Slow Money and the purpose of that organization was to inspire and catalyze investment in local food systems.”

The first meeting of the CKFPC, which was held on Monday, Jan. 23 by teleconference, was closed to the public, so council members could get their bearings. But moving forward, meetings will be open to the public.

“It’s meant to be a bridge between industry, government and the public, so if we host meetings in person those meetings will be publicized and people can join,” said Derfel. “If we hold them on the phone, and people want to join the phone call, they can. So anyone and everyone that wants to have a voice in their local food system, we are a great avenue for that voice to be heard and hopefully redirected in a way that will hopefully have a positive effect somewhere.”

For more information on the CKFPC, visit ckfoodpolicy.ca.