OFPC mourns co-chair Cathleen Kneen

The Ottawa Food Policy Council (OFPC) announces with great sadness the passing of our dear leader, colleague and friend, Cathleen Kneen. As well as her active role in a multitude of non-profit organizations advocating for social justice and food security issues across the country, she co-chaired the OFPC since its inception in 2013. Cathleen has always been a source of inspiration and courage for us all.  We celebrate her life, fulfilled with generosity, humour, patience and wisdom.

Our thoughts are with you and your family. We will miss you deeply, Cathleen.

Media Release: Candidates respond to “Good Food for All” questions

October 13, 2015


The Ottawa Food Policy Council has challenged local area candidates to put food policy on the agenda in this federal election. A number of candidates from the Liberal, NDP, and Green parties have agreed that Good Food For All is a priority.

Good Food for All is a policy statement (http://ofpc-cpao.ca/blog/2015/09/23/open-letter-to-federal-election-candidates/) based in a comprehensive grassroots process of community consultation and kitchen table meetings over a period of more than two years (2010-2012). Good Food for All calls for a national poverty reduction strategy; a universal school food program; a strategy to ensure access to good, culturally appropriate food for First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in the urban centres and in Northern communities; and that food security for Canada as a whole demands an agricultural policy that encourages and supports new farmers and ecological farming practices that protect land, water, and air quality for the future.

Eight candidates from the Ottawa region have responded in writing and their statements are available on the Ottawa Food Policy Council website http://ofpc-cpao.ca/federal-candidate-responses-to-good-food-for-all-reponses-des-candidats-a-la-lettre-aliments-sains-pour-tous/.

Further engaging candidates, on September 19th, 2015, the Ottawa Food Policy Council co-sponsored Eat.Think.Vote. (http://www.usc-canada.org/resources/news/item/329-candidates-gather-to-talk-food-in-ottawa), along with other Ottawa -based organizations concerned with food and justice. The round-table café-style event saw ten area candidates from all six Ottawa ridings hold in-depth discussions with constituents and pledge to support a National Food Policy. Eat.Think.Vote. is a Food Secure Canada (http://foodsecurecanada.org/EatThinkVote) initiative where communities across the country engaged their local candidates to encourage food policy as an election issue. Food Secure Canada is a national non-profit organization representing the food movement across the country.

“Engagement on food policy by the federal candidates is significant,” commented Sarah Rice, Chair of the Ottawa Food Policy Council. “We have seen some movement at the local level in terms of increasing access to nutritious food in and around schools, and the NCC Greenbelt Master Plan to promote sustainable food production for the local market in the Greenbelt. But for core issues like addressing poverty, Aboriginal food access, and sustainable agriculture we need action at the Federal level. We look forward to more engagement from the federal level with the municipal government and the province to create a strong action plan in the near future.”

With the Federal Election just days away, the Ottawa Food Policy Council encourages those candidates who have not had a chance to respond to do so and challenge themselves and others to champion Good Food for All. Responses can be sent to the Ottawa Food Policy Council at info@ofpc-cpao.ca, and will be posted publicly on www.ofpc-cpao.ca.

Open letter to Federal Election Candidates

 Food affects everyone, all day, every day

 Good Food for All

[See the candidates’ responses here!]

There is a growing shift towards Good Food For All in our cities…

…in our neighbourhoods, schools, hospitals, food banks, grocery stores

…in our rural and urban communities.

Food is a central part of the health and well-being of our communities.


What is Good Food?

  • Fresh
  • Accessible
  • Affordable
  • Culturally relevant
  • Minimally-processed
  • As local as possible
  • Ecologically grown


What do we need federal candidates to champion?

  1. 1. Good Food must be accessible for all who live in Canada.

We need MPs who acknowledge poverty as a root cause of food insecurity.

Nearly half of all Canadians (40%) say rising food prices are a concern they want politicians to address on the campaign trail (Ipsos Reid, July 2015).

As such, we need MPs who support a National Poverty Reduction Strategy that prioritizes Good Food for All through:

  • a liveable income;
  • good jobs;
  • health care for all;
  • affordable childcare; and
  • affordable housing.

We need MPs who will call on the federal government to study the feasibility of establishing a basic income floor to ensure everyone in Ottawa can pay for fixed expenses such as housing and utilities, AND afford sufficient, safe, healthy and culturally relevant food for themselves and their families. The impact of such a basic income would be most significant for people living with food insecurity – 1 in 10 families in Ottawa (Ottawa Public Health, 2011).


  1. 2. Good Food needs to be a foundation for learning.

We need MPs who will call for a Universal Healthy School Food Program to enable all students in Canada to have access to healthy meals at school every day.

Building on existing programs in Ottawa, all schools would:

  • Serve a healthy meal at little or no cost to students.
  • Have programs on food education, to include growing and cooking Good Food.
  • Serve Good Food to the fullest extent possible in an environment that is free from advertising to children.


  1. 3. Good Food must be available to First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals and families.

We need MPs who, in addition to addressing issues with remote and Northern access to Good Food, commit to addressing the high level of food insecurity among First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities living in Ottawa, including the ability to access affordable, healthy, culturally relevant food.  

There are officially 18,200 self-identified First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples living in Ottawa (Statistics Canada, National Household Survey, 2011). Local partners believe the unofficial number is closer to 40,000. At least 17% live with low-income and food insecurity (Statistics Canada, National Household Survey, 2011).


  1. 4. Good Food and local economic development need to work hand in hand to keep existing farms and new farmers ecologically and economically viable and supported.

We need MPs who will ensure federal levers are used to support local economic development related to both food and farming in Ottawa, including on NCC lands, with an emphasis on new farmers and farms producing for regional markets.

It is critical that we have thriving food and farming businesses in Ottawa, and that we have a new generation of farmers to take on the 1100+ existing farms within City boundaries (2011 Census of Agriculture).


  1. 5. Good Food requires having a National Food Strategy and the ongoing use of a Good Food Lens

We need MPs who commit to actively engage with Ottawa constituents in the decisions related to food at the federal level.

We need MPs who commit to the development of a National Food Strategy with Good Food at its core.

We need MPs who will use a Good Food lens when working on all federal planning, regulation and policy related to agriculture, environment, health and trade.


  1. 6. Good Food for All, in Canada and abroad

We need MPs who ensure that domestic and international trade policies strengthen food sovereignty, and do not compromise the ability of communities to satisfy their future food needs.  

Because 500+ million family farms feed the majority of the world’s population, especially in poor and food insecure areas (Statistic from the Food and Agriculture Organization), it is critical that domestic and international trade, development and agricultural policies:

  •       Improve the livelihoods of family farmers, herders and harvesters, assuring their rights to land, water, and natural resources, and supporting the traditional practice of farmers to save and breed their own seeds.
  •       Support programs that promote ecological agriculture practices that reduce carbon emissions, species loss and genetic erosion, while also encouraging farmer innovations that increase farm productivity, food security, and rural livelihoods.

Our food future depends on policies that maintain healthy and resilient food systems for generations to come.


Our questions:

How will you champion Good Food for All?

Will you champion a basic income for all who live in Canada?

Will you champion a national school nutrition program?

Will you champion access to Good Food for First Nation, Inuit and Metis people?

Will you champion support for new farmers?

Will you champion a National Food Strategy that prioritizes Good Food?

Will you champion Canada’s role in Good Food abroad?

Please respond to the Ottawa Food Policy Council at info@ofpc-cpao.ca. We will be posting your responses to Good Food For All on this website for public information. 

Eat Think Vote Ottawa – September 19

Eat think vote

Does food matter to you? Join thousands of people across the country who want to make food a critical issue in the federal election this fall!

What:  A stylish block party with local candidates from six Ottawa ridings to discuss the food issues you care about with other members of your community.

When:  Saturday, September 19th, 2015 from 4pm to 7pm

Where:  Metcalfe Street between Sparks and Wellington

Who:  We expect over 100 people including Ottawa citizens, community organizations working on food issues in Canada and abroad, as well as candidates from the four major political parties.

Table conversations will range in topics from ending hunger and poverty, supporting new farmers, good food for all, and Canada’s contribution to food sovereignty and the global food system. Let’s start the conversation early! Share your thoughts and spread the word via social media now: #EatThinkVoteOTT @FoodSecureCAN

The event is FREE but you must register in advance here.

BYO sandwich and dress in white!


Apply to be an OFPC Member – Deadline extended to October 14

Ottawa Food Policy Council is seeking new members!  

Deadline for application: October 14, 2015

The Ottawa Food Policy Council (OFPC) is seeking new members. This is a volunteer opportunity. The OFPC was established as an independent body in October 2012 as a result of the Food For All Project, a collaborative, community-based food research and action project between 2009-2012, which was led by Just Food and the University of Ottawa.

The mission of the Ottawa Food Policy Council (OFPC) is to work towards a food system in Ottawa that emphasizes social and economic viability, and environmental sustainability through the entire food cycle, and in which food is celebrated and enjoyed. The OFPC recommends food policies to various constituencies (including municipal, provincial, federal, business, public sector, community and households) and works to enable their implementation. The OFPC is a volunteer organization that operates under a working group structure to enable wider participation across our communities.

The OFPC selection committee is seeking individuals who will bring a variety of backgrounds and interests, with a particular emphasis on the following areas of expertise:

  • Communications: including social media, media training – i.e. comfortable presenting to different audiences (radio, individual meetings, public presentations);
  • Event planning;
  • Local Food policy (local food procurement);
  • Economics and policy;
  • Legal issues;
  • Food industry (e.g. micro processing, retail);
  • Urban/Rural planning.

Candidates must have:

  • Time to work on policy development, including connecting with other networks who are working on food and farming issues in the Ottawa region;
  • Interest and passion for local food issues and local food economy.

Time commitment required for this position

Volunteering 6-8 hrs/month for tasks such as:

  • Monthly meetings (2hr each)
  • Reading documents/prep of files prior to meetings (1-2 hr/month)
  • Involvement in subcommittee (3-4 hr/ month).

When selecting new members, the OFPC will consider as an asset the following types of diversity (i.e. the individual has expertise or lived experience):

  • Geographic: including suburban, urban, peri-urban and rural
  • Demographic: including First Nations, Inuit and Métis, Francophone, newcomers to Canada, low-income communities, and youth (under 25 years of age)

The selected candidates will be expected to join the OFPC for a three-year term, with a maximum of two consecutive terms. During that time, members of the OFPC will be expected to attend at least six times regular meetings a year. Additional time required for working groups and research is based on the workplan as set out by the OFPC as a whole.

The OFPC is also looking for advisors who will offer knowledge, expertise, and guidance as required, without a requirement to participate in meetings or decision-making processes.

Please note this is a volunteer board.

Deadline for expression of interest: October 14, 2015. Everyone will be contacted and shortlisted candidates will be asked to attend an in-person interview.

Please include the following in your expression of interest:

  • Letter detailing relevant experience and why you are interested in joining the OFPC
  • CV or resume
  • Contact information for three references.

For further information or questions, or to submit an application, please contact the OFPC Selection Committee at info@ofpc-cpao.ca.

Key messages from “School Lunches: What’s on the Menu, Ottawa?”

School Lunches: What’s On the Menu, Ottawa?

Promoting healthy food in our schools, K to Grade 12

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Immaculata High School, 140 Main Street

Organized by the Ottawa Food Policy Council



Keynote Speaker: Pascale Messier, R.D., Ottawa Public Health Dietitian

School Food and Beverage Policy, P/PM 150

  • Nutrition Standards for Schools Committee (NSSC) formed by the Ministry of Education in 2008 to create a food and beverage policy to create healthier nutrition environments.
  • There is a need for a call to action due to the rising rates of obesity in younger populations and also due to the importance and link between nutrition and health growth and intellectual development.
  • The policy was implemented September 1st, 2011. All schools have to be in compliance by the beginning of the school year 2011-2012. Policy has been in place for just over 3 years, so it is still fairly new and schools are still adapting to the changes.
  • The policy applies to the school system and activities involving the students. It must be monitored by the school and monitoring should be ongoing.
  • Food and beverages sold at school must meet the standard criteria in order to be allowed for sale.
  • Beyond the PPM 150, schools have fun and innovative ideas to make healthy nutrition part of their environment and their everyday school life.


A Regional perspective: Laurie Dojeiji, Health Promotion Manager, Champlain CVD Prevention Network

  • A regional Healthy Schools collaboration emerged in 2007 (housed at the Univ. of Ottawa Heart Institute; involves four public health units and nine school boards in Eastern Ontario as well as other community partners, such as Heart and Stroke, Green Communities Canada, and others).
  • A key milestone was the signing of our Champlain Declaration in April 2009, formalizing the commitment to work together to create physically active, healthy eating environments in the 500+ schools in our region.
  • Having a common vision – something that grounds us all in shared direction of what we what to achieve – has proven to be a powerful enabler of change.
  • It afforded us a mechanism to explore meaningful opportunities to collaborate – i.e. “what can we better to do together”.
  • Our initial efforts centered on the development of shared tools & resources, accessible to all, to support the implementation of the then-new PPM 150, as well as a broader lens on nutrition environments. We co-developed and co-hosted (with public health and school boards) a series of nutrition workshops; we developed tangible tools to support implementation efforts (e.g. tip sheets for healthy fundraising alternatives, for non-food classroom rewards; sample compliance letters for use with your catered lunch providers; among others); and our partnerships affords us the ability to share ideas and learnings across and between school boards.
  • The Declaration has also proven to be an effective lever for change – for example, enhancing partnerships between school boards and public health, and helping to bring provincial policies & programs (such as the Foundations for a Healthy School framework and PPM 150) to life at the regional level.


A Teacher perspective: Sally Collins, High School Teacher, Lead on the Healthy Eating Program, Norman Johnston Alternate Program


A student perspective: Samuele-Lyn  LaRocque, G12 Student, Student Representative on the Healthy Eating Working Committee

Norman Johnston is a high school primarily for at-risk youth. Last year, we received a grant from the Ministry of Education to encourage students to grow, make, and eat real food. Below is a summary of our initiatives:

-we created a foods room; now students are always cooking and feeding other hungry students in the school

-students built a raised garden

-we hosted healthy eating events

-leadership students ran events with healthy food

-outdoor education students will be making food for their trip

-chefs come in or we take students to them

-students went to a three day healthy eating camp

-students competed to design a healthy eating hoodie

-students decorated plates to remind them to eat more vegetables

-we bought hydroponic gardens

-healthy eating teachers received professional development

We can continue next year because most initiatives were low cost and the infrastructure can be maintained with regular school budget. Most importantly, students and teachers are excited about healthy eating.


An administrative perpective: Christopher Mes, Principal, Immaculata High School, Co-chair of Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) Healthy Eating & School Funds Committee



  1. From a system perspective, challenges are seen in the monitoring of said policy. As a school Board, we have in place compliance letters for schools, and for community food suppliers, such that they require specific compliance for items within PPM 150 prior to approval to supply food for schools.
  2. As for secondary schools, the food services are centrally determined; therefore one food supplier represents all schools. Restrictions have reduced that amount of school revenues.
  3. Students find alternatives to eating healthy at school (fast food services located in and around the schools).
  4. Challenges include students with limited budgets go elsewhere due to higher prices for fresh healthier foods…ie salads, etc.

Although these challenges are present, the following have occurred to encourage Healthy Eating:

  1. Cafeteria Service provides incentives and promotion for healthy eating. Ie: working with Chef Corban for healthy foods choices for students.
  2. OPH work with student to promote healthy eating at Lunch, yogurt smoothies etc.
  3. Our Hospitality classes focus on healthy eating. They cater/cook for school events, again with health eating in mind.
  4. Immaculata has an Eco-Garden.
  5. For the spirit of PPM 150, no fundraising regardless if it is sold or not, will happen with foods associated with chocolate, fat food.


A Parent perspective: Alejandra Dubois, Parent, School Council, École secondaire publique Gisèle-Lalonde

  • Parents have most of the responsibility when it comes to developing children and youth healthy lifestyles.
  • You are their model: your child will most probably try to imitate you.
  • Children develop their taste at a young age. Therefore, exposing them to healthy choices as soon as they start on solid food is the best investment.
  • Once they enter the school system, children choices will be influenced by their food environment and their peers. But you are preparing the lunch box!!!! Choose wisely.
  • As a parent, you can influence their food environment: get involved in school and community decisions!
  • Fundraising is an opportune area for parent involvement, especially in elementary schools.
  • The establishment of a school council in each school is mandatory in Ontario since 1997[1]. School councils are advisory bodies that may make recommendations to their principals or school boards on any matter.
  • You can choose to be a regular school council member or to be involved on specific workgroups or task forces, such as the nutrition committee. It does not exist? Just propose the creation of one and “recruit” other volunteers.
  • Start small, set concrete objectives and tap on existing resources to guide your work:


Ministry of Education: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/healthyschools/links.html

Ottawa Public Health: http://ottawa.ca/en/residents/public-health/resources-teachers-and-employers/resources-and-curriculum-support

Just Food: http://justfood.ca/ottawa-food-action-plan/healthy-school-food-environments-in-ottawa/

NTS online community: http://nutritiontoolsforschools.ca/

Healthy schools 2020: http://www.healthyschools2020.ca/en_tools_and_resources.php

  • Look for ideas on non-food or healthier food fundraising activitie;, Nutrition Tools for Schools (NTS; Healthy Fundraising Fact Sheet; list of some local vendors which schools might find helpful.


[1] Ontario. Ministry of Education (2001) School Councils. A guide for members http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/general/elemsec/council/council02.pdf

Register Now! School Lunches: What’s on the Menu, Ottawa?

Join us for an event to discuss promoting healthy food in our schools, K to Grade 12

Who should attend? Parents, students, educators, health workers, food providers, community members

Learn about innovative food and nutrition programs, school food policy, parents and students getting involved

6 – 7:00 pm Displays and Networking
7 pm – 8:30 pm Keynote Speaker and Panel Discussion
Keynote Speaker: Pascale Messier, Ottawa Public Health Dietitian
Regional perspective: ​Laurie Dojeiji​, Health Promotion Manager, Champlain CVD Prevention Network
Teacher perspective: ​Sally Collins​, High School Teacher, Lead on the Healthy Eating Grant provided by the Ministry of Education, Norman Johnston Alternate Program
Student perspective: ​Samuele-Lyn​ LaRocque, G12 Student, Student Representative on the Healthy Eating Working Committee, Norman Johnston Alternate
Senior Management perspective: ​Christopher Mes​, Principal, Immaculata High School
Parent perspective: ​Alejandra Dubois​, Parent, School Council, école secondaire publique Gisèle-Lalonde
La periode de questions et réponses sera bilingue : anglais-français

WHEN:  Tuesday, May 12, 2015, 6 – 8:30pm

WHERE:  Immaculata High School
140 Main St.  Main Entrance (enter from parking lot)

See a blog by OFPC Council member Rob Lazzinnaro, RD, of the Bariatric Medical Institute about this event here.

CONTACT: Email info@ofpc-cpao.ca or call Olly Wodin at 613 244 2792

TO REGISTER: click here