About Us - Alberta Food Matters operating the Growing Food Security in Alberta Network

Our Vision

All people in Alberta have healthy food, as close to home as possible.

Our Mission

Alberta Food Matters Mission - Working together to foster leadership, relationships and actions that reconnect people, land and food in Alberta; Alberta Food Matters grows through community development, research and evidence-based approaches, policy development and skill building, educational projects, programs and workshops.

GFSA Mission - Working with the Board of Alberta Food Matters the GFSA network engages Albertans - groups, organizations, business, governments and individuals - in strategies to ensure secure access to adequate amounts of safe, nutritious, culturally appropriate food for everyone, produced in an environmentally sustainable way and provided in a manner that promotes human dignity (adapted from OPHA Food Security Workgroup 2002).

OUR VALUES

WE believe that healthy, clean food is an essential human right.
WE value nature as the enduring measure, mentor and model: sustainable, equitable, locale-driven, regenerative and systemic.
WE believe successful actions and healthy food systems are built on relationships.
WE value asset-based approaches that recognize everyone and every group has something to contribute.
WE value equity: practices that are participatory and support open source sharing.
WE value credible, evidence – based information and practices.

AFM and GFSA 2013-2015 - We are currently creating a policy action plan, mobilizing communties and groups around the Farm to Cafeteria Canada initiative and the Universal School Food Strategy for Alberta,  seeking funding to follow up on its S.E.L.R.S. project. and set up the structures and policies to guide AFM.

GFSA operating through AFM is Advocating for a Universal School Food Strategy for Alberta

Click here for more info.

Like many Albertans, we believe that all children living in Alberta have the right to nutritious food and a healthy lifestyle. We also think it’s important to teach younger generations the value of food that is nutritious and sustainably produced.

That’s why we are advocating for the Alberta government to take the lead on the development of a Universal School Food Strategy. 

Key features of this strategy should include support for: 

  • Student involvement in the cultivation and preparation of food

  • Education on the food system

  • Healthy meals and snacks, sourced by local producers

  • Relationships with local procuders and the development of local food procurement policies. 

If such a strategy is implemented in Alberta, our children will benefit from healthier eating habits, reduced risk of chronic disease, improved academic performance and greater awareness of the food system. A resource kit is being created to support this inititaive to help communiites advocate for this initiative. 

S.E.L.R.S - The S.E.L.R.S project sought a proactive approach to food security and its role in the sustainability and quality of life of rural Alberta communities required to ensure self-sufficiency and reduced demands on public funds (health, environmental impacts, social support) over the long term. The overall goal was  to create a model for a well-planned, viable, and equitable food system for rural Alberta that identifies and implements local and regional food system opportunities. Specific objectives of this initiative were:

  1. To assist communities in developing a mechanism for mapping assets (social, environmental, economic, and institutional capital) related to food security.

  2. To build capacity to understand food security and options to address it.

  3. To identify and implement action plans.

  4. To make results available as a framework for other communities and the Alberta public.

The S.E.L.R.S lens was shared as it was created through blogs on the GFSA web site.  The lens - Sustainable Equitable Locale Regenerative System for food.  Examples of some of the outputs during the process include understanding food security and its relationship with local food; publicly available local food databases; engagement of the community seeking opportunities for locale food processing, farm to gate sales, farmers markets, and new businesses; and demonstration of local food systems in action. 

Rural communities in Alberta have identified local food systems as a viable solution to food insecurity. The S.E.L.R.S initiative was community driven, and built on the capacity building in food security already initiated in the Lacombe community and area. The project assisted Lacombe and area in identifying assets, communicating experiences in strengthening local food systems, and to use this information to develop a model for local and regional food systems that can be applied by all Alberta communities. The project now has a workshop called  "A Community Food Intensive"  which was successfully piloted in Lacombe and has emerging actions and activities. This workshop is now available to other Alberta communities  as they develop their own local food systems that will contribute to a sustainable rural sector for all Alberta. Next up Fort Macleod, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge.

GFSA Background - Growing Food Security in Alberta (GFSA) strives to enhance the health all people who live in Alberta through its provincial food security network actions. The network has been built on a broad base of intersectoral partnerships and public participation and promotes and supports policies and initiatives that reduce the prevalence of food insecurity in children and their families. The GFSA Network is seeking ways to address the disparities that are the root cause of food insecurity in Alberta. 

This GFSA web site, active GFSA network participants, a lively listserv, and a DVD about food security in Alberta all came to fruition in 2003-2005. Thanks to an active Steering Committee with supporting sub groups GFSA has continued to flourish. In June 2010, the GFSA Blog, GFSA Newsletter, Facebook and Twitter were made available to encourage broader communication and networking. 

From 2006-2009, GFSA facilitated a process called Community Building for Food Security, to help 9 rural communities understand and talk about the social and economic determinants of health and help them to develop and follow through on action plans to address the issues. The official project name is “Sowing the Seeds from the Provincial Food Security Network - Community Asset Mapping, Capacity Building, and Action Planning for Food Security”.

The 9 participating communities are High Level, Grande Prairie, Cold Lake, Lloydminster, Lacombe, Sylvan Lake, the Blood First Nation, Brooks and Medicine Hat. GFSA assisted these rural Alberta communities to build capacity by facilitating a participatory community-conversation process to help community citizens:

  • have a mutual understanding of what food security is,

  • address the underlying root causes and the relationship to good health, 

  • find local solutions through the identification of resources, local alliances and partnership to enhance any existing food security initiatives and encourage new initiatives, and 

  • develop plans of action specific to their community

In 2009/2010, GFSA focused on continuing to support community level actions across the province that would help identify and act on the disparities that undermine food security. Three new rural communities were invited to participate in the Community Building for Food Security initiative. These communities include Vegreville, Fort Vermilion, and Red Deer. GFSA also revisited four of the GFSA communities to work on action plans and the formulation of policy directions. All 12 communities received seed funding to support their efforts. GFSA also led a kitchen table process across Alberta seeking input from Albertans for the People’s Food Policy Project. In November 2012 AFM/GFSA hosted the national Food Secure Canada Assembly in Edmonton "Powering up!"

GFSA and new the new non-profit Alberta Food Matters are deeply grateful to the Dietitians of Canada who have provided professional dietetic support and have been our strong partner as GFSA sought funding over the years. DC also was our fiscal agent until January 2013 when Alberta Food Matters (AFM) became the new incorporated nonprofit; Alberta Food Matters is now managing the GFSA network.  AFM now joins the Dietitians of Canada on the AB Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention. (APCCP) which is also a very strong supporter of our work.