On the first of this month our network gathered online for our December Network Meeting to discuss Community Food Action (CFA) in our city. With a number of new and familiar faces, Bonnie Khlon started our meeting with a brief discussion on the extreme weather events of this past fall and the importance of local food in climate change.

Our new communications lead, Krista Macaulay, facilitated the panel structured meeting where presenters shared and discussed food programs in Kamloops. Our panel included Mariana Guerra’s presentation of the Evaluation Plan on the Gleaning Abundance Program (GAP), Peace Jilani sharing her thesis research on the impact of the GAP, Serena Caner discussing Farm2School and the potential of school food environments in Kamloops, and Caitlin Quist & Kevin Pankewich presenting their Evaluation Plan on the Butler Urban Farm (BUF).

After the panel of presentations, attendees were asked to join the topic of their choice –  BUF, GAP, or School Food Environments – to provide adequate time to dive deeper into dialogue. Our breakout rooms followed the “what, so what, now what” liberating structure to reach a broader vision of CFA in our city, considering what is happening with food in our urban environments and what are the best steps for its continuation and growth.

The fruitful discussions looked at the current role of CFA in our city –  but really highlighted why food matters in Kamloops. Peace’s research on the Social Return on Investment of the GAP showed the numerical effect CFA has on food security and food waste, but also on the immeasurable impacts such as community building, emotional capacity and friendships. This theme was repeated in both the School Food Environment and BUF breakout room: where there is food, there are people. Where there are people, there are opportunities for connections, community development, and joy.

Looking forward, ideas were given on what more our programs could be doing. We discussed how CFA programs can grow, how to strengthen our outreach to wider networks, and what roles the KFPC can take on to lead new community food initiatives – specifically in school food environments.

The meeting concluded with a brief update from staff members of the KFPC on the brand launch of The Stir – Kamloops’ regional food hub and the exciting next steps towards doors opening in early 2022!

Thank you to our amazing panel of presenters and all who attended the meeting. Food has a deep purpose in our city, not only does it sustain us, but it connects us. We hope to see you all for our next network meeting in the new year on February 2!