A brief history of Just Food (formerly the Ottawa Food Security Council)
Summer 1999: Community members concerned about food security begin talks with staff from several departments of the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton (RMOC) on the role that local food alternatives such as community gardens and food-related community economic development initiatives can play in a greener more inclusive city. (RMOC was the regional governing body before the amalgamation of the new City of Ottawa).
March 2000: The final report of the “Task Force on Poverty, People First: Removing the Barriers through Action” is released. Recommendation 18 calls for the Region to develop a Food Security Policy in collaboration with community partners. The RMOC Council ratifies the recommendations of the task force.
October 2000: The Ottawa Food Security Group (OFSG) receives funding from the Health Department of RMOC to conduct an inventory of food programs in the region.
March 2001: The publication “Food Security in Ottawa: A Community Profile” is jointly released by the OFSG and new City of Ottawa People Services Department.
June 2001: The Ottawa Food Security Group hosts “Food Connections – Let’s Talk.” Speakers from Toronto and Waterloo discuss food security structures and next steps. A key message that emerges is that food security is more than a hunger issue; a poorly functioning food system affects everyone. Participants say that Ottawa needs a multi-sectoral Food Council.
October 2001: The OFSG coordinates a consultation to engage stakeholders in dialogue about a food council; in particular its relationship with the City of Ottawa. Various food projects that could be undertaken in Ottawa also form part of this consultation.
Fall 2002: The OFSG releases “Community Consultations,” summarizing the consultations that took place over the previous months. Stakeholders suggest an Ottawa Food Security Council that is a Community-City partnership.
November 2002: “A Proposal for an Ottawa Food Security Council” is launched. Talks begin with City Councillors and staff regarding City participation in the Food Security Council.
January 2003: Meetings begin with community members who will play some role with the Council.
February 6, 2003: The Health, Recreation and Social Services Committee of City Council recommends that Council endorse the Ottawa Food Security Council, with funding. In addition, they endorse having a City Councillor and City staff serve on the Ottawa Food Security Council and that City staff be directed to nominate appropriate officials to the Council and determine an appropriate level of support for the Ottawa Food Security Council.
February 26, 2003: City Council approves the recommendation of the HRSS Committee, awarding to the OFSC work.
March 25, 2003: The Ottawa Food Security Council holds its inaugural meeting.
April 1, 2003: First coordinator hired at 2 days/week.
October 2004: Organization shifts work from policy focus to project development, building broad partnerships under new leadership.
June 19, 2006: Ottawa Food Security Council officially changes its name to Just Food, welcomes the Ottawa Community Garden Network, and launches this website, the second version of the Ottawa Buy Local Grow Local Food Guide and the first collaborative version of Food Link with the City Health Department.
August 2006: Just Food is invited by Ottawa Tourism to discuss culinary tourism along with many other partners. The Savour Ottawa initiative is born from these talks a few months later.
February 2009: Ottawa City Council passed the Community Garden Action Plan creating the Community Garden Development Fund, dedicated solely to developing new community gardens, and supporting existing ones.
November, 2011: Just Food is incorporated as a non-profit organization.
January 2012: Just Food takes over management of its financial affairs from the Social Planning Council of Ottawa, which was acting as our sponsor since 2003.
April 2012: Just Food releases the Ottawa Food Action Plan, a result of the Food for All Project. This was a community engagement project that was a collaboration between Just Food and the University of Ottawa, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
June 2012: Just Food establishes offices at the Just Food Farm site at 2389 Pepin Court adjacent to Blackburn Hamlet in the eastern Greenbelt.
January 2013: Just Food establishes the Start-up Farm Program.
October 2013: Official launch of the Ottawa Food Policy Council – a recommendation from the Food for All Project. Just Food provides strategic and logistical support to the Council.
November 2015: Just Food, in partnership with Natural Gourmet, launches an incubator kitchen (Ottawakitchen.ca).