The B.C. government has launched a new funding stream meant to help improve food availability and affordability in the province’s rural communities.
Provincial government officials said the program aims to strengthen food supply chains and streamline logistics, storage, and transportation options in remote, rural, and indigenous communities.
“British Columbians rely on strong, local food systems and it is imperative that we look at ways to help strengthen our supply chains with new and innovative ideas,” said Pam Alexis, Minister of Agriculture and Food. “By supporting this sector, we are helping increase food security and affordability, and strengthening local economies throughout B.C.”
Officials said the Food Affordability and Innovation Fund will provide up to $15.5 million for the B.C. Food Storage, Distribution and Retail Program.
The B.C. government aims to use the fund to improve regional distribution networks and shared storage capacity.
This could include the following:
- Reducing costs with improvements to warehouse and storage facilities at key locations along the supply chain.
- Introducing shared transportation networks that will pool shipments.
- Increasing food supply to rural and remote communities with partnerships and collaborating on direct sourcing or bulk purchasing.
- Reducing food waste, strengthening supply chains and increasing food availability.
- Implementing technologies meant to improve the efficiency of food supply chains, such as modern inventory-management technology.
- “By improving transportation and food storage, this investment will help increase food security and support B.C.’s rural, independent grocery-store operators who have been dealing with higher costs and slimmer margins to expand their capacity and serve their communities,” said B.C. government officials.
The Food Affordability and Innovation Fund will also provide $2-million for the B.C. Small Food Processor Scale-Up Program.
“This stream will support B.C. food processors and abattoirs to help them grow their operations and increase productivity, business opportunities and competitiveness,” said B.C. government officials. “The funding for both programs will be delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC.”
– with files from Ryley McCormack, MyKootenayNow.com staff