It was about this time back in 2019 that Guelph and Wellington County were announced as the winners of the Smart Cities Challenge. The challenge was to develop a circular food economy that was going to reduce food waste, promote sustainable food development, and increase access to nutritious food and produce. By many metrics, the project has been a success, so what happens when the funds run out this year?
To start the Smart Cities Office, Our Food Future, Guelph and Wellington County got $10 million from the Federal government, and they nearly doubled that investment between an additional $17 million from various sources plus almost $2 million from in-kind donations. That money has, among other things, diverted over 86,000 tonnes of food waste, turned nearly 76,000 tonnes of food waste into new products, and saved over 116,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
Not too shabby, but the primary funding for Our Food Future runs out in December. A February report to the Committee of the Whole explained that the Our Food Future office is on track to deliver on all its milestones; some projects will come to their natural conclusion while others will end up under the umbrella of one of Our Food Future’s many community partners. But will there still be an actual Our Food Future office in 2024, and what happens to all that work if there isn’t?
David Messer, who is the executive director of Our Food Future, joins us this week to talk about that. He will discuss the accomplishments of Our Food Future, how the pandemic might have helped accelerate the goals of the project, and the office’s usefulness creating one place for anyone interested in the circular economy to collaborate. He will also talk about the long-term impacts of Our Food Future and why the office won’t just disappear before New Year’s Eve at the end of the year.
So let’s talk about the future of Our Food Future on this week’s Guelph Politicast!
You can find out more about Our Food Future at their website. There’s also been two different reports about the work of Our Food Future presented in the last month, one to Guelph Committee of the Whole and the other to the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Board of Health just last week, and you can see the coverage of both those meetings here on Guelph Politico.
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