The Brandon Food Council is taking root in the community and will soon be its own organization.
The food council, which focuses on food security issues in the Wheat City, was founded under the wing of Food Matters Manitoba two years ago but is ready to come out of incubation, chair Ryan Whibbs said.
"It is coming the time, there’s enough momentum, there’s enough people involved, there’s enough expertise on the food council," he said.
The Brandon Food Council’s main task isn’t to directly put food on people’s tables, Whibbs said, but to co-ordinate with other groups and identify how resources can be best spread out and get to people.
"It’s certainly not to just flood the city with food, it’s to get the right food into the city and get it to the right places," he said.
"That might include residents, but it could also include restaurants and senior living facilities and things like that if we’re able to."
Food Matters Manitoba also helped set up the Winnipeg Food Council, but there are issues unique to Brandon and Westman that need to be addressed, Whibbs said.
The region has many people spread out over a large area, so access to food can be more challenging than in large urban centres.
"In Brandon, you really often need a car to access a lot of the benefits and necessities we have around here. A lot of people who are struggling with food insecurity don’t have access to a vehicle or it represents a hit to their income to be taking cabs," he said.
There is also the issue of getting information about resources out as widely as possible, which can also be an issue in Brandon.
The Brandon Food Council will also be working to get charitable status, Whibbs said, which will make it easier to apply for grants and funding.
Currently, Whibbs said the organization is looking for new members to fill out its ranks.
The plan from the beginning was for the Brandon Food Council to become its own organization, said Rob Moquin, the executive director of Food Matters Manitoba.
"Addressing local issues and finding local solutions is really important when it comes to food security," he said, and municipal food councils working at the ground level are best equipped to do that.
Food Matters Manitoba is working in other communities to get food councils off the ground, but Moquin said he couldn’t share any details on Wednesday.
The Brandon Food Council and Food Matters Manitoba are also working on an app called The Edible City.
Details aren’t concrete yet, Whibbs said, but the aim is to organize information about accessible food all in one place.
That could include information about getting a community garden plot, public food options, details on public fruit trees or vegetable patches, he said.
"If we can really send the message out that here’s where you can go for food information that isn’t ‘Which restaurants do I want to order from?’ and really hit home with that, then I think the information dissemination piece will become much easier," he said.
"That in itself will put food on people’s tables."
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