by Lynn Roblin, MSc. RD, member of co-lead of the Ontario Food and Nutrition Strategy group
The Ontario Food and Nutrition Strategy (OFNS) design team formed in 2011 as a working group of the Ontario Collaborative Group on Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (OCGHEPA). The group includes representatives from non-profit, health, food and academic organizations dedicated to addressing population-based issues relating to healthy eating, physical activity, healthy weights and the determinants of health, including food access. Sustain Ontario, a province-wide, cross-sectoral alliance that promotes healthy food and farming, is a key partner within the OFNS Design Team and houses all documents of the collaborative.
The OFNS group has identified the need for a cross-government, multi-stakeholder coordinated approach to address food policy and program development and to develop a plan for healthy food and farming in Ontario. The group prepared an Action Plan Framework as a result of consultations with over 40 representatives of relevant provincial ministries, food, nutrition, health, and farming groups, engagement with Aboriginal and First Nations groups, and online surveys with over 200 submissions between 2012 and 2014. Research, background papers and consultation reports are available on the Sustain Ontario website.
Three members of the OFNS group attended the Innoweave collective impact workshop in the fall of Sept 2013 and 12 representatives, including 3 ministries, attended the February 2014 workshop. Participants at both workshops felt the collective impact approach would help us further engage key actors to achieve system level change for a coordinated, cross-ministry, multi-stakeholder mechanism to address food and nutrition policy and programming in Ontario. This will ultimately help improve the health of Ontarians and strengthen Ontario economy and resiliency of our food systems.
Thanks to funding from the McConnell Foundation and Innoweave the OFNS group is receiving coaching support. The coach will help us finalize our system level impact goals, further develop our theory of change and advance mutually reinforcing activities, and create a process for shared impact measurement. The coach will also work with us to refine the collaborative organizational structure and a resource plan.
The OFNS group is a dedicated group of individuals representing a variety of organizations who have provided tremendous in-kind and volunteer support. The OFNS group has applied and is hopeful to secure funding through Innoweave for a backbone coordinator so that the excellent work on the strategy can continue.