City must be central to solving food insecurity: Councillor Carr

By CityNews Ottawa

Alta Vista City Councillor Marty Carr believes dealing with food insecurity in Ottawa is a problem that needs to be tackled by all levels of government, not least of which the municipality.

For the newly elected Carr, the pandemic and inflations have intensified issues of food security and brought to the fore the fragility of our food systems.

“You've really seen an increase in terms of people needing to acces food,” said Carr on The Sam Laprade Show. “We also saw threats to our supply chain that really show how precarious our supply chain really is. I really think it's time to start looking at what we can do locally.”

According to the Ottawa Food Bank, 2022 saw the most visits in the organization's 38-year history. Across its locations, there were more than 400,000 visits to the food bank. One in seven households in Ottawa reported food insecurity, compared to one in 15 in 2017, as reported in the Ottawa Food Bank's annual Hunger Report. 

Carr wants to see the city take bold action and innovative approaches to the issue. She points to cities where there is more space for greenhouses and community gardens within the city limits.

Carr hopes she can inspire other city councillors to think more creatively to address the problem beyond the short-term – funding for food banks and other social services agencies. A longer-term outlook for Carr would be to include things like committing to urban agriculture in the city's Official Plan.

“'I'd really like to advocate for a sort of centralized plan,” said Carr. “Whether it's a Food Charter or policy framework for food security, I think that's really important.”

Addressing the core issues of poverty is also key. Carr believes better funding and a basic income to help reduce poverty is the overall solution to food insecurity.

“Even within the city there's a responsibility to fund these things,” said Carr point to Ottawa's Community Safety and Well-being Plan as one avenue to ensure poverty reducing initiatives within the community are adequately funded.

“I'm very hopeful that I'll be able to bring attention to this and get some traction going on how we address this.”

Listen to the full interview with Councillor Marty Carr on The Sam Laprade Show below.

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