The South Cariboo must do more to prepare for potential food supply disruptions, especially in the wake of COVID-19, according to the chair of Horse Lake Community Farm Co-op board of directors.
Rod Henneker called for a revitalized food security council in the region as part of a presentation last month to the South Cariboo Joint Committee. The Community Farm Co-op, along with the Food Bank, farmer’s markets and community garden groups could be involved, he said, as well as representatives from the District of 100 Mile House and the Cariboo Regional District.
“At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, as you know, everyone was fighting over toilet paper,” Henneker told the 100 Mile Free Press after the meeting. “The thing that is going to hit us at some point, if the trucks stop running, we will only have a few days’ supplies left in the stores. It’s something the CRD should be thinking about.”
Henneker noted there are several “assets” around that region that could be utilized for growing, processing, preserving and storing food, such as the community garden space and The Lodge in 100 Mile House. “There are all kinds of possibilities as far as what the committee could be doing,” he says.
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His proposal to the Joint Committee was well received at both the municipal and regional district levels. 100 Mile House Coun. Chris Pettman told Henneker he would reach out before Christmas to look at the possibility of resurrecting the South Cariboo Food Security Group, which fell by the wayside a few years ago.
“It’s something we should definitely look at reinvigorating here and have discussions about that,” Pettman said.
CRD Chair Margo Wagner agreed a food security council is a “great idea” and the regional district would be happy to contribute in an advocacy role.
“Food security has become a lot more front and centre in people’s minds nowadays, especially in rural areas,” Wagner told the Free Press. “If a committee were to formulate, I think we’d have an interest in someone sitting on it.”
Henneker said a food security council could also tackle issues such as the lack of slaughter capacity in the area, noting many farmers who have no place to take their livestock for processing and are struggling to stay afloat. Wagner noted the CRD is currently working with the Ministry of Agriculture to get an abattoir built in the region, something desperately needed for people raising livestock in the area.
“There is lots of work to be done, but there is work that has been done around the province and by various other organizations that we could access and take the lead from as well,” Henneker said. “As a community, we shouldn’t rely on thinking that things are going to stay the same forever.”