Eat West Coast – New Food Security Capacity Building Program!

Eat West Coast is a hub for food security action in the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve region on the west coast of Vancouver Island that brings together community partners to build a healthy food system where everyone has access to the foods they need to thrive. We connect schools, local governments, communities, not-for-profits, food providers, and others.

Based out of Tofino, EWC supports eight remote communities with a combined population of about 6,000. We have a young population and more than a third reside in First Nations communities. Food is expensive and difficult to access for many, with some communities boat access only. We have no local agriculture, loss of traditional marine food as a dependable food source, and one of the highest costs of living in BC.

A just and sustainable food system in our region is rooted in healthy communities, where everyone has access to nutritious, culturally acceptable food. This means that we have the skills and knowledge about the ways food is grown, harvested, preserved, processed and cooked and that traditional hunting, fishing, gathering, and conservation practices are respected and enabled. These are an important part of our west coast history, culture and health.

With the help of the Maple Leaf Centre for action on Food Security, EWC will develop a region-wide program to help support the increasing local interest and activity in revival of local food knowledge and food preservation techniques (storing, canning, smoking, pickling, drying, etc.) so that our families can learn more about each season’s abundance and access a variety of healthy traditional foods year-round and in times of need (both economically and in emergency situations). Some of our biggest barriers have been needed for capacity to support knowledge sharing, lack of modern food-safe training, and lack of access to appropriate facilities.

Our project will address these needs through a ‘train the trainer’ local capacity building approach. We will grow local leaders and champions and support them to implement workshops and education across communities. Part of the backbone of support will be sufficiently equipping community and school kitchens and creating a regional network to share knowledge and resources.

EWC is funded by our regional health authority, Island Health, under their Food Security Hubs Network and hosted by the Clayoqout Biosphere Trust, a local organization that stands on two pillars as both a biosphere reserve and a community foundation. As the only organization in Canada that encompasses both of these internationally recognized mandates, the CBT is able to see the opportunities and challenges through a unique lens and collaboration with the CBT and its partners will allow our work to have a sustainable impact.