Frequently Asked Questions


What is a Food Charter?

A Food Charter is a “statement of values, principles and priorities for a just and sustainable food system that will promote health and food security for all”. Developed by a community, food charters document community members’ shared visions for a food system and it is an action-oriented plan to guide decision-making and promote food for health and food for all. Toronto is home to the first food charter, adopted in 2001. Since then, 64 municipalities and regions across Canada are working on food policy initiatives to build civic engagement, facilitate collaboration and catalyze actions to strength the local food system.

What is the difference between the Sustainable Local Food System and Food Security?

Sustainable Food System is “a collaborative network that integrates several components in order to enhance a community’s environmental, economic and social well-being. It is built on principles that further the ecological, social, and economic values of a community and region. Characteristics of a sustainable food system include (outlined by Pothukuchi and Jufma, 1999):

  • Energy efficiency
  • Economic generator for farmers’, whole communities and regions
  • Healthy and safe
  • Environmentally beneficial
  • Uses creative water reclamation and conservation strategies for agricultural irrigation
  • Secure, and therefore reliable and resilient to change
  • Balances food imports with local capacity
  • Contributes to community and ecological health
  • Builds soil quality and farmland through the recycling of organic waste
  • Supports multiple forms of urban as well as rural production

Food Security is “a condition in which all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” (Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations).

What does the York Region Food Charter do?

The York Region Food Charter brings people together to talk about and work on local food system and food security opportunities.

The mandate for the York Region Food Charter Working Group is set by the shared values and principles of the Food Charter, articulated in the Terms of Reference, reviewed annually in June. The 2014-2015 Terms of Reference is available here.

What values and principles are articulated in the York Region Food Charter?

The York Region Food Charter values…

Economic Opportunities

  • Economic development plans that ensure robust and financially sustainable agriculture
  • Innovative food and related industries that unite producer, processor, distributor, health, tourism, education and hospitality sectors
  • Locally-grown, traditional and world foods.

Education and Skills

  • Food literacy and skills for all residents, with a focus on food growing, healthy cooking, and composting
  • Education that supports opportunities in the agriculture and food sector
  • Understanding the connections between food, farming, health, environment, and the economy. 

Health and Wellbeing

  • Access to a variety of healthy and affordable food in all neighbourhoods and facilities
  • Food policies and practices to improve and inspire health
  • The importance of food for physical, mental, emotional and cultural wellbeing
  • Community ownership of healthy, locally-grown and processed food

Equity and Social Justice

  • The basic right of all residents to safe, nutritious, culturally appropriate, accessible food
  • Dignified access to food for all
  • Fair compensation and a safe and respectful work environment in the agriculture and food sectors

Environmental Sustainability

  • Rural and urban agriculture practices that protect biodiversity and improve the health of our land, soil, water, and air
  • Integrating agriculture and food into energy and climate change policies and strategies
  • Protection of agricultural lands and a streamlined regulatory framework
  • Reducing food and packaging waste among consumers, retailers, processors and producers

Why is the York Region Food Charter’s logo a pumpkin?

We are thrilled to have the York Region Food Charter represented by a pumpkin! Pumpkins are in the squash family – a versatile and diverse fruit, pumpkins grow on 6 of the 7 continents (all continents except Antarctica). Pumpkins are also a staple in the cuisine of many nationalities, and are integral to many celebrations.

The York Region Food Charter’s pumpkin has 9 parts – representing each of York Region’s 9 municipalities. The stem is a map of York Region.

Who is funding the York Region Food Charter?

We are extremely grateful to our many partners for offering funding and in-kind support for this initiative.

The York Region Food Charter is currently made possible through funding from the Heart and Stroke Foundation and Healthyork.

How can I get involved with the York Region Food Charter?

There are lots of ways you can get involved with the York Region Food Charter.

I am interested in hosting an event that supports values articulated in the York Region Food Charter. Do you have promotional material I can use?

Absolutely! Please contact Kate at or 905-841-3101 ext. 206 to discuss promotional materials we can offer.