A new program set to debut in the Okanagan will be a step towards fulfilling the Feed BC plank of the mandate Premier John Horgan gave BC agriculture minister Lana Popham in 2016.
Announcement of the initiative was set to occur at Penticton Regional Hospital this week, but was delayed by a landslide across Highway 97 between Peachland and Summerland.
While the details have yet to be revealed, the content is no secret.
Agriculture ministry staff have spent the past year developing a program that would allow health authorities to boost the procurement of local food, creating opportunities for both producers and processors to feed domestic markets.
“It’s not an easy one to do,” she told Country Life in BC in December. “It means working with another ministry, the Ministry of Health. It’s complicated because of procurement contracts that have been previously signed.”
In addition, procurement policies must respect regional and international trade agreements. These prevent health authorities from buying 100% locally, limiting them to something closer to 30%.
Using locally grown Okanagan fruit for apple sauce is one opportunity for feeding patients in Penticton. Popham says apple sauce is a product that’s never been produced in BC before, and doing so would create a value-added opportunity as well as jobs.
Feed BC complements Buy BC, which focuses on growing sales among consumers, and Grow BC, which aims to keep farmland in production.