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Local food in our public institutions: Équiterre applauds "a great step forward" by the Quebec government

QUEBEC CITY, September 22, 2020 - Équiterre is welcoming Quebec’s new Stratégie nationale d’achat d’aliments québécois dans les institutions (Strategy for the Purchase of Quebec Food in Institutions) unveiled today by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ), an important step forward long awaited by Équiterre, which positions the province as a leader in the field in Canada.

"This strategy will allow concrete measures to be deployed so that we can find more healthy, local and environmentally responsible food in our public institutions. Institutional food purchasing is complex and presents many challenges. However, it is encouraging to see that there is political will and that the government is equipping itself with the tools to achieve its objectives," states Colleen Thorpe, Équiterre’s Executive Director. “Institutions have a key role to play and the province must help them to inspire and set an example.”

Équiterre commends the following measures of the plan:

1) A critical element: clear targets for all

"Ever since Équiterre began working on institutional food 18 years ago, our organization has always insisted on the importance of setting ambitious local food supply targets that increase over time. Setting targets is an excellent way to achieve our aspirations," explains Murielle Vrins, Équiterre’s Food Program Manager for the past 16 years.

With the new strategy, 85% of public institutions in Quebec will be required to set local supply targets by 2023 and 100% of them will be required to by 2025.

The targets will help institutions to better assess where they are at and to take action. "Feeding our citizens local and environmentally responsible food will become a source of pride," adds the expert.

2) Support and resources to create winning conditions

"As we can see clearly with GHG reduction efforts, targets are of little use if we don't give ourselves the means to reach them. Fortunately, the government has taken this aspect into account, including accompanying resources in its strategy - essential to its success. This is the first time we’re seeing such an investment in a program of this kind," says Murielle Vrins.

Part of this support is provided through the Aliments du Québec au menu recognition program, created by Équiterre and Aliments du Québec, which encourages and showcases institutions who feature local products in their food services.

3) Équiterre's expertise and vision

Équiterre is particularly proud to be given a central role in the implementation of the government's new strategy.

"Today’s announcement reinforces Équiterre's unifying role in this field of expertise: that of mobilizing, accompanying and supporting all players in the agri-food sector," says Murielle Vrins.

For more than 18 years, Équiterre has been supporting public institutions across the province and the country through its institutional food program. In order to provide institutions with concrete tools to set targets and, above all, to reach them, the organization, in collaboration with Aliments du Québec and the MAPAQ, has launched a tool entitled Recettes clés pour un approvisionnement alimentaire local et écoresponsable dans les institutions du Québec (in French) that includes eight practical fact sheets.

Another inspiring example:

In less than 10 years, Copenhagen reached its target: the meals offered in public institutions are 90% organic and are made mainly with local ingredients. There was a basic investment, initial support during the first few years and then supply adjusted to demand. Eventually, prices adjusted as well.



For more information:
Anthony Côté Leduc
Media Relations, Équiterre