Eat Think Vote is a pre-election campaign gathering community members across Canada to dialogue with federal candidates ahead of the upcoming election. Our goal is to make sure food is an election issue and that the incoming government develops policy that encourages a food system that is healthy, sustainable and just.
In 2015 ahead of the federal election, thousands of Canadians took part in the Eat Think Vote campaign to make food an election issue. These events brought together community members and candidates running for federal office, gathering them over a meal to discuss the food issues affecting their communities in the day-to-day. From Iqaluit to Québec City, from Vancouver to Halifax, people from across the country came together to tell politicians that we needed good food for all.
ETV 2015 in numbers:
- 69 events across the country
- 192 organizations hosted events
- 4461 individuals participated
- 164 candidates participated
- 44 candidates elected
- 5 promoted to Cabinet
Based on the grassroots engagement process in developing A People’s Food Policy, local food activists once again showed that they wanted to engage with policymakers, and policymakers saw that civil society had important perspectives to bring to the table.
What did we want in 2015? The campaign called for a bold new national food policy that delivered on the following asks:
- Zero hunger
- A Canada-wide healthy school food program
- Affordable food in the North
- Support for new farmers
In the end, the campaign was a tremendous success, leading to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mandating the incoming Minister of Agriculture, Lawrence MacAulay, to develop a national food policy for the first time in Canadian history. Recognizing that food is a multifaceted, complex issue, FSC also urged the government to work in tandem with other federal departments (e.g., Health Canada, Northern and Indigenous Affairs, Employment and Social Development), as demonstrated in this open letter to Minister MacAulay.
Because of FSC’s work with members, collaborators, and community members across the country, Canada received its first national food policy in 2019.
In 2019, Food Secure Canada worked with 117 organizations to host 50 events across the country, of which 21 were in partnership with Community Food Centres Canada. Altogether, over 2900 hours were spent organizing, calling candidates, cooking, and running events. Taking place in community centres, schools, healthcare centres, farmers markets, and many other formats, Eat Think Vote 2019 was in nearly every province and territory.
ETV 2019 in numbers:
- 50 events across the country
- 117 organizations hosted events
- 7 437 individuals participated
- 216 candidates participated
- 34 candidates elected
- 4 promoted to Cabinet
In 2019, an invitation was sent out seeking volunteers to review and update existing FSC policy documents and/or propose new topics. A follow-up was done to reach out to area specialists. Several backgrounders were added based on submission. Finally, policy backgrounders were developed in a collaborative fashion with FSC members and colleagues based on the seven themes below:
- Food insecurity
- Healthy school food
- Indigenous food sovereignty
- Right to food
- Healthy diets from sustainable food systems
- Pesticides and genetically modified organisms
- Affordable food in the North
Not only did people gather to talk about issues in their community and the policy and programs needed, they also gathered to break bread together, have a cup of coffee, and meet their candidates and fellow community members in an approachable way. Organizations and individuals expressed that in addition to strengthening the social fabric of a community, the campaign helped them learn about food insecurity and policy advocacy and empowered them to participate in the political process.