The Windsor Essex Food Policy Council produces and disseminates Food System Reports that assesses the state of the regions food system, including activities in production, distribution, consumption, waste generation and composting, nutrition and food assistance program participation and innovative food system programs.
In the fall of 2018, the Windsor-Essex Food Policy Council and the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, with support from the WindsorEssex Community Foundation, initiated this Comprehensive Food System Assessment for Windsor and Essex County. This project represents the culmination of many years of work and focus by a wide variety of individuals passionate about food in Windsor and Essex County. The purpose of the assessment was to build a foundation for sustained, ongoing, food system work to come over the next many years in this region. As a comprehensive assessment, it considered all aspects of the food system contained in the current food system framework – production, processing, distribution, access, consumption, and waste management. The time is right for food system work with recent Federal and Provincial food policy initiatives, as well as poverty reduction initiatives supporting food security.
With a focus on the entire Windsor and Essex County region and beginning in September of 2018, an environmental scan, local research and broad stakeholder engagement were undertaken to inform this assessment. A total of 681 community connections were made through face to face community conversations, a community survey and stakeholder engagement sessions across Windsor and Essex County. Grounded in a knowledge of the local community, including both strengths and vulnerabilities, the assessment delved into assets, strengths, challenges, and opportunities in the local food system. The following provides a brief summary of findings across the various food system areas.