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B.C. launches local food project guide

British Columbia’s provincial government has released a new resource guide for local governments on how to improve local access to healthy foods.

“We’re pleased to support A Seat at the Table, which helps provide local governments with some practical workable ideas they can use in their own communities to help ensure more locally grown food is available,” Healthy Living Minister Mary Polak said in a release Thursday.

The guide, funded and developed by B.C.’s Community Food Action Initiative in partnership with the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM), offers ideas and proposals to help improve access to healthy foods and ways to reduce the burden of chronic illnesses often related to eating, the province said.

Also, the province added, it outlines how local governments can encourage the availability of healthy foods while improving local economies, the environment and the well-being of communities.

The guide has a focus on community gardens as a way to help increase access to nutritious food, foster healthier and more socially responsible communities and revitalize unused land. It also outlines how farmers’ markets help “enrich” communities by attracting both locals and tourists and promoting local farmers and local foods.

The guide also points to neighbourhood planning as a way to reduce the need for transportation and improve access to nutritious foods, the province said.

“In recent years, local governments have taken a greater role to encourage local food production and access to healthy foods,” said UBCM president Susan Gimse in the province’s release. “A Seat at the Table will help us build on these efforts to increase healthy eating in B.C.”

Local government representatives can get copies of A Seat at the Table at the UBCM meeting wrapping up Friday in Penticton, the province said.

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