GROW Nova Scotia: School Food is a new project created by Agri-Futures NS with a vision of a creating a new network, representing all parts of the school food system, working together to increase access to local and healthy food in schools. Using the Collective Impact model, the project will focus on developing an organized and intentional network of stakeholders working on increasing procurement of local food in schools, and other public institutions, over a three-year period.

Agri-Futures has been working to develop a network of stakeholders and supporting organizations under the GROW Nova Scotia Initiative. We have been engaging organizations, individuals, school food champions, government, and businesses and gathering information through facilitated multi -stakeholder meetings across the province.

We are currently working on developing our Collective Impact framework through funding from Innoweave.

The Need

The majority of students in NS public schools do not have access to food at school that is either healthy or local. We know on the health front what children eat matters. We see improved education outcomes, reduced rates of chronic diseases, and reduced health care costs when children and youth are properly nourished with healthy food. Improving food literacy can lead to better food choices and health outcomes.

We also know that by supporting local food producers we benefit local economies because of their contribution to the local economy. The “multiplier effect” is the concept that money spent on local food is more likely to be re-spent within the local economy. This occurs when farmers and other local businesses buy inputs locally, employ local people, and otherwise work with other local businesses. (NS farm activity has an expenditure multiplier effect of 1.12 within Nova Scotia and 1.35 within Canada.)

Local food can be environmentally beneficial because of reduced transportation distances and the use of sustainable agricultural practices. Locally produced food can also be more nutritious. Growers can select varieties for nutrient density instead of varieties that hold up well physically while being shipped long distances.

Procuring local foods for schools, and other institutions, has wide ranging benefits and meets mandates across government departments, organizations and individuals involved in the school food system. In developing a framework that fosters collaboration, Collective Impact initiatives have provided solutions to complex social problems by aligning people toward working to develop and accomplish common goals.

GROW Nova Scotia’s Guiding Values

Fairness– We strive to build a food system in NS where fairness exists among suppliers, producers, processors, retailers, and consumers.

Equity– We strive to build a food system that promotes dignity, fair working conditions, and access to healthy food.

Sustainability– The food system in NS must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the next seven generations to meet their own needs- ecologically, financially, and socially.

Collaboration– We know that when people, organizations, and governments work together, more can be accomplished. We will work across and within the Nova Scotia food system to build a positive, collective impact.

Shared Benefits– We create viable solutions guided by real, measurable results for the Nova Scotia food system.

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