United Way’s Harvest Algoma launches program to focus on food Sovereignty

United Way’s Harvest Algoma has launched the Algoma Agricultural Sector Development Project after receiving funding from the Sector Partnership Planning Grant provided by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development. The project was designed to focus on food sovereignty, meaning an increase in local control of food production, processing and distribution.

The annual spend to purchase food exceeds $70M in our community, but 90 per cent of food that is sold in our grocery stores and restaurants is imported from outside the region. With the Algoma Agricultural Sector Development Project, we want to find out if it’s possible to replace those imports with locally grown and processed food.

All while employing local people; keeping that money circulating in the local economy and reducing our impact on the environment. Every day we see countless numbers of large food trucks coming and going from the Sault. There is a clear opportunity for our community to make a change since food is a necessity for everyone.

Patrick Connolly, a local dairy farmer has been hired as the project co-ordinator. He will focus his efforts on local food producers and processors to discuss expanding their operations. The supply of trained farm labour is also a major focus of the project.

The agricultural sector in Canada is already facing severe shortages of trained workers- estimated to be in the 16,500 range by the Canadian Agriculture Sector Council.

There is also a severe shortage of meat cutters in Canada. Expanding the local agricultural sector can mean significant job creation in addition to increasing the supply of food for food insecure people which is estimated by Future Sault Ste Marie to number approximately 14,000 residents.

The project is also supported by the Rural Agri-Innovation Network (RAIN), Algoma Workforce Investment Corporation, Sault Ste Marie Community Futures Corporation and East Algoma Community Futures Corporation. United Way Harvest Algoma also appreciates the assistance we received form Sandra Wise and Courtney McDonald at the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

The views expressed in this publication are the views of United Way Sault Ste. Marie & Algoma District and do not necessarily reflect of the province.

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