For Immediate Release
July 12, 2011
Toronto: A broad cross-section of prominent food service industry representatives delivered an open letter to the Mayor and Councillors today with a powerful message: please do not kill the City’s Local Food Procurement policy.
“This is a first in Toronto: farmers, food processors, and institutions that buy local food and environmentalists all standing together saying the City should not kill its local food procurement policy,” said Franz Hartmann, Executive Director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA). “Torontonians have shown widespread support for City Hall buying local food. Today, we want to make sure City Council knows how widespread this support for local food is.”
“Ontario farmers are willing and able to supply safe and nutritious food to Toronto institutions,” said Bette Jean Crews, President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. “We are simply asking City Councillors to be receptive to helping improve our environment, economy and citizens’ health through an updated local food procurement policy.”
The letter to the Mayor and City Councillors praises the City’s efforts to date to support local food and notes the many positive benefits to Toronto’s economy. It also notes that Torontonians are huge supporters of buying local food from their farming neighbours. Signed by nine organizations, the letter urges the Mayor and City Councillors to adopt the staff recommendations that further develop the city’s local food procurement policy.
“The support of local foods by SKOR Foodservice customers has always been there, and it is only growing,” said David Capobianco – VP Procurement, SKOR Foodservice. “Our customers tell us that their patrons want to know that the food they are serving is supporting local farmers, the local economy and the environment. SKOR is also very excited to be helping support the sale of local foods to our public sector customers.”
The City of Toronto spends about $11 million a year purchasing food for city-run daycares, shelters and seniors’ homes. Back in 2008, City Council agreed to a 50% “buy local food” target. Since then, staff have been working on ways to meet this target and figuring out what the Province can do to change regulations that work against supporting local food.
For more information, contact:
Franz Hartmann, Toronto Environmental Alliance.
July 8, 2011
Mayor Ford and Toronto City Councillors
Toronto City Hall
100 Queen Street West
Dear Mayor Ford and Toronto City Councillors,
As members of Ontario’s food service industry we would like to congratulate the City on your commitment and efforts to procure local food and we encourage Council to support the recommendations contained in the report before Council to continue this work.
Since October 2008, when the City adopted its local food policy, the food service industry have been working hard to meet the growing demands of their customers to provide more Ontario food options for large volume buyers, such as the City of Toronto. Your commitment to procuring local products supports our efforts to change our industry to meet wide-spread customer demand.
However, as the food service industry is continuing to move the meter forward and provide even more Ontario food options, we fear the City may stall or even abandon its commitments. Many of us in the industry have made great strides to increase the supply and our purchases of local food. In fact, large food service provider Gordon Food Service has increased their listing of Ontario products
from 300 to 900 over the past two years. They’ve done this because their customers want it. More and more distributors are making it easier to identify local products and major food processors are starting to incorporate local ingredients into their products.
Toronto and its neighbouring cities support the second largest food processing sector in North America. Food and farming activity in this region generates an annual economic impact of $35 billion. As members of this sector we recognize that supporting local food is good for the future of our business.
What’s amazing is that within 100 km of Toronto we have two of the most unique growing areas in Canada: the Holland Marsh and Niagara. This safe and secure source of local food provides everything from tender fruit to carrots. Did you know there are enough carrots grown in the Holland Marsh annually to supply every person in Canada with a four pound bag? So, there are definitely enough carrots to supply every City-run facility!
The City of Toronto has made good progress on its commitment to buying local food and we hope this will continue. We are all working within tight budgets and small profit margins to provide good customer service while keeping costs in line. As members of the farming and food service industries, we encourage the City to continue to support the business of Ontario food.
We ask you to continue to support your local food procurement policy and vote for the staff recommendations contained in the report before Council.
Ontario Federation of Agriculture SKOR Foodservice
Ontario Independent Meat Producers Ontario Fruit and Vegetables Growers
Greater Toronto Area Agricultural Action Committee Algoma Orchards Ltd.
Holland Marsh Growers Association Cohn Farms
Ontario Restaurant Hotel Motel Association
David Capobianco, SKOR Foodservice Vice President, Procurement
Laurie Nicol, Ontario Independent Meat Producers, Executive Director
Art Smith, Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association, CEO
Nick Ferri, Greater Toronto Area Agricultural Action Committee, Chair
Tom Coleman, Algoma Orchards Ltd., Sales
Jamie Reaume, Holland Marsh Growers' Association, Executive Director
Larry Cohn, Cohn Farms, President
Tony Elenis, Ontario Restaurant Hotel Motel Association, President & CEO