Super Team

Food Systems

Food is a major concern for all Canadians, and My Sustainable Canada is no exception. MSC has been recognized for its work on helping public institutions identify opportunities to use their buying power in ways that help re-build local food systems.

Our team has experience in conducting market analysis, gap analysis, food system mapping, and strategies for growing the local components needed for a just and resilient food system that is locally owned.

Our efforts include delivering many successful workshops on "rebuilding the middle of the food system" and developing useful tools ranging from a "Food Origin Audit Guide" to infographics that help small and medium sized vendors market their food products to public sector institutions.

Listed below are selected examples of food system projects completed by MSC:


Local Food and Ontario's Long-term Care Sector: Opportunities, Barriers and Creative Approaches (Completion: 2015)

A recent poll conducted by Environics Research Group shows that more than nine out of ten (91 per cent) of Ontarians believe the Province should ensure that more local food is on the menus in publicly funded institutions, including long-term care homes.

But, as this report Local Food and Ontario's Long-Term Care Sector (2015) reveals, there are many barriers to making that happen. This report documents the current state of local food usage in Ontario's Long-Term Care sector and recommendations for moving forward in four major categories: research, policy, funding and awareness.


City of Vancouver Food Infrastructure Gap Analysis - (Completion: August 2013)

The City of Vancouver contracted My Sustainable Canada to identify gaps in the local food infrastructure that affect the ability of Vancouver's institutions, retailers, restaurants, and consumers to procure local food. The timing of this work reflects the City's focus on becoming the Greenest City by 2020 and fulfilling a Food Strategy with the ambition of making the City of Vancouver a "global leader in urban food systems". This project followed three phases to arrive at a final set of recommendations for the City of Vancouver to undertake to address gaps in the local food infrastructure. A series of consultations figured centrally in the project, including a public questionnaire with roughly 1,000 respondents, three stakeholder focus groups, and a series of one-on-one interviews. The final recommendations reflect the findings from these stakeholder engagements and from a market analysis and food system mapping model that was developed to identify strategic roles where the City of Vancouver could influence the food system.


Farm to Cafeteria Canada (F2CC) – Member of the Advisory Board (Completion: Ongoing)

As an Advisory Board Member for Farm to Cafeteria Canada, My Sustainable Canada helped develop a strategic plan and conduct a national survey of farm-to-institution programs. As a newly emerging network, F2CC will help new farm-to-institution programs launch, develop, and succeed.

University of Guelph/Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Partnership Fund, Final Report: Local Food Provision in Ontario's Hospitals and Long-Term Care Facilities: Recommendations for Stakeholders (Completion: February, 2013)

With the support of the University of Guelph/Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) Partnership Fund, MSC is in partnership with researchers at the University of Guelph, Wilfrid Laurier University and the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care have investigated the current state of food provision in Ontario's healthcare system. This in-depth research project has four project objectives: 1. Establish the current state of food provision in Ontario's healthcare system; 2. Gain an in-depth understanding of the opportunities and constraints impacting food provision decisions in Ontario's healthcare system; 3. Provide alternative perspectives on healthcare food provision and the potential for changing these practices; and, 4. Understand implementation details for making changes at the individual facility level.


Ontario Apple Growers, Assessing and Identifying Opportunities to Buy More Local Apples in the Broader Public Sector (Completion: February, 2013)

Public sector institutions are sourcing apple products from across the continent, and whole apples from around the world. Working closely with the Ontario Apple Growers, My Sustainable Canada identified product opportunities for Ontario's apple growers to more strategically develop, pack and market products to Ontario health care facilities, public school boards, colleges/universities, and correctional facilities, in order to increase the sales of Ontario apple products. The procurement steps and opportunities were captured in infographics based on the findings from approximately 50 surveys conducted with procurement officials within the BPS. Over the course of the project, many consultations occurred with the institutions, sensitizing them to the opportunities and barriers that new vendors face when attempting to market to them.

Navigating International Trade Agreements and Buy-Local Policies in Canada – National Webinar (Completion: March, 2013)

Public and private sector institutions are increasingly looking to leverage their buying power to create positive social change. But navigating the dozens of trade agreements that regulate how purchasing occurs can be overwhelming and the ambiguity of agreements currently being negotiation can feel paralyzing. MSC offered this webinar as a starting point for organizations and municipalities to come together to explore the national purchasing landscape as it is set by trade agreements like NAFTA and the Agreement on Internal Trade, and to consider how it could be affected by un-ratified but pending agreements such as CETA. The webinar featured three provincial case studies from British Columbia, Ontario, and Nova Scotia that reveal how they were able to navigate the legal landscape to implement their progressive purchasing goals.


Burlodge Canada (Completion: March 2013)

Retherm systems, which are traditionally used to regenerate/re-heat pre-made meals, are nearly ubiquitous in Ontario's health care facilities. These systems are commonly thought to be a barrier to the procurement of local food for two reasons: 1) they rely on pre-made meals, and the availability of local options in this food category are limited; and, 2) while fresh local food is easier to purchase, health care facilities feel they cannot purchase fresh foods because their retherm systems are not considered as traditional/appropriate cooking equipment. However, My Sustainable Canada found that both these barriers are more perceptual than real.

In collaboration with MEALsource GPO, Burlodge Canada, and The Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care, MSC worked with the local food value chain to increase the local food options available to health care by creating new ready-made local entrees, and by creating fresh local-food-for-retherm recipes. These two approaches, combined with outreach, education and support activities, allowed MEALsource's member facilities to increase their procurement of local food by an estimated $150,000/year.

Ross Memorial Hospital (RMH) – Local Food Pilot (Completion: March 2012)

In 2011, RMH was awarded a grant form the Broader Public Sector Investment Fund to be a pilot site for a local food project. My Sustainable Canada, in collaboration with Sysco Canada, the City of Kawartha Lakes, the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care, and the hospital's nutrition team, looked at RMH's current purchasing to identify opportunities to increase the amount of Ontario food being prepared in the kitchen and served to patients. The team began by determining the origin of more than sixty-five foods on its menu, including meats, dairy products, eggs, and produce. It was discovered that less than 20% of their food was local. This baseline information was then used by the team to identify and target five non-local menu items and find local food substitutes. The annual value of the five new local foods being served at RMH was estimated to be $20,000.


MealSource (formerly St. Joseph's Group Purchasing Organization), 25 Member Hospitals in southern Ontario – Sustainable Food, Procurement, Training & Workshops (Completion: March, 2012)

This "Local Food Champions" award-winning project demonstrated that getting 15% more local, sustainable food to your patients is possible, and it can be cost neutral while also having a flurry of positive social, environmental, and economic consequences in the community around you. My Sustainable Canada teamed up with MealSource to help this Ontario group purchasing organization improve the quality of the food on their patients' plates, while creating a $1.3 million investment in their local economy. Through innovative procurement strategies and valuable network building, MealSource is now leading the way for sustainable food procurement in the health care sector. In addition, a reference guide (Conducting Food Origin Audits: a Step-by-Step Guide) was created to help organizations and institutions determine the origin of the food they purchase. The food origin audit provides the purchaser with a baseline from which to track its progress towards purchasing more local food.