The Regional Food System

​Despite the importance of food, our capability to feed ourselves over the long term has recently become an issue of serious study and discussion. Global changes are occurring that raise concerns about the resiliency of our food system. These include anticipated changes in climatic conditions and in the agricultural productivity of areas that grow the food that we import. Changing ocean conditions are also impacting fish populations.

What is a food system?

A food system refers to all the processes involved in keeping us fed: from growing and harvesting
food to its processing, packaging, transportation, distribution, preparation, marketing, and its final consumption. It also includes the management of food and packaging waste and the recovery of nutrients within the region.

Regional Food System Strategy

The Regional Food System Strategy (RFSS) shows how actions at the regional level can move us toward a sustainable, resilient and healthy food system. It envisions a food system that will contribute to the well-being of all residents and the economic prosperity of the region while conserving our ecological legacy.

The Regional Food System Strategy has five goals:

  1. Increase capacity to produce food closer to home
  2. Improve the financial viability of the food sector
  3. People make healthy and sustainable food choices
  4. Everyone has access to healthy, culturally diverse and affordable food
  5. A food system consistent with ecological health

​The Metro Vancouver Board adopted the Regional Food System Strategy in 2011, to address the regional interest in food issues as part of its commitment to making a sustainable region.

In 2013 and 2014, three regional roundtables were held to develop an action plan to implement the strategy.

Regional Food System Action Plan

The Regional Food System Action Plan (Action Plan) identifies 160 actions that local governments are planning to undertake in the next 3-5 years to advance implementation of the Regional Food System Strategy (RFSS). In response to an identified need for more collaborative efforts, the Action Plan also identifies 18 new actions for local governments to undertake collectively.

Local governments have already been actively engaged in efforts to build a sustainable, and resilient food system in the region, however, the Action Plan is intended to be forward looking, and therefore does not include the efforts and programs that have been implemented prior to 2015. It is intended to be a ‘living resource’ that is flexible and adaptable. As such, the Action Plan will be updated at regular intervals as local governments adopt or undertake new initiatives.

The Action Plan was developed by Metro Vancouver and a Task Force of representatives from eleven municipalities, the Tsawwassen First Nation and the Ministry of Agriculture. In April 2016, the Action Plan was endorsed by the GVRD Board and conveyed to municipalities for similar endorsement.