Local Government Support for Independent Food Retail Businesses: A Policy Environment Review
Related Course Concepts
Food security, Social class/income inequality, Cultural identities
Mission and Vision of Organization
Vancouver Food Policy Council (VFPC)
The Vancouver Food Policy Council is an official civic agency that advises Vancouver City Council and staff on improving food sustainability in Vancouver, including program and policy changes to improve the local food system. See the VFPC Terms of Reference for more information.
The Institute for Sustainable Food Systems (ISFS)
The Institute for Sustainable Food Systems is an applied research and extension unit at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) that investigates and supports regional food systems as key elements of sustainable communities in British Columbia. Our research investigates the potential for regional food systems in terms of agriculture, economics, community health, policy, and environmental integrity. Our extension programming provides information and support for farmers, communities, business, policy makers, and others
Guiding Principles + Values
Vancouver Food Policy Council
The Vancouver Food Policy Council works to help improve food sustainability in Vancouver, where food is:
- Safe, nutritious, and culturally appropriate
- Affordable, available, and accessible to all
- Produced, processed, marketed, consumed, and waste products reused or managed in a manner that is:
- Financially viable
- Protects the health and dignity of people
- Minimally impacting the environment
Institute for Sustainable Food Systems
The Institute for Sustainable Food Systems aims to advance a regionally-focused food system that supports and nurtures local communities and ecosystems by
- Providing safe, nutritious food to local communities,
- Employing regenerative agricultural practices,
- Advancing local economies,
- Sustaining the health, well-being and dignity of people
Community collaboration is central to our research and extension approach.
- Primary Contact Person(s): Naomi Robert
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 6045992680
- Address: 8771 Lansdowne Road, Richmond
- Website: www.kpu.ca/isfs
Preferred Method of Contact
- Best method(s) to contact: Email
- Best day(s) to contact:Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Monday-Friday 9:30am-4:30pm
- Best time(s) to contact: Mornings, Afternoons
Context: What challenge or issue does the project aim to address?
Independent, locally-owned businesses provide important, economic, cultural and social benefits to communities. For example, a retail sector dominated by independent, local businesses is more likely to recirculate revenue within the local economy, while profits generated in chain competitors often leave the community at the end of the business day. This project focuses on locally-owned, independent grocers. These retailers can also increase access to culturally appropriate foods while contributing to the character, culture and social connectedness of urban communities. The existing economic landscape in Vancouver presents challenges for operating financially viable independent grocers, resulting from trends in both local and global policy landscapes including increasing property values, corporate hegemony, and vertical integration. Therefore this project aims to articulate policy options for local governments to support thriving, independent grocers.
Main Project Activities
What can local governments do to support local, independent businesses, particularly grocers?
To address this students will a) describe current policy environment, including key barriers to owning and operating independent food retail businesses in Vancouver and, b) complete a scan of existing policy precedents adopted in other jurisdictions to address select barriers.
Expected Project Deliverable(s)
At the conclusion of this project, students will write a final report describing:
- Key challenges to operating independent businesses, with a particular focus on grocers
- Identifying local government policies that can help address these challenges and support independent businesses
Student Assets and Skills (preferred or required)
- Research, information gathering/organizing
- Independently-driven, internet-based research
- Knowledge of local government policy instruments and structures (asset)
Student Assets and Skills (to be developed through the project)
- Improve ability to identify, synthesize and communicate complex policy issues
- Gain knowledge of the role of the retail sector in the food system supply chain
Are there any mandatory attendance dates (e.g. special event)?
Is a criminal record check required?
Preferred Days of Week and Hours
- Monday-Friday 9:30-4:30
Related Community Service Opportunities for Students
- Students will have the opportunity to a) attend monthly Vancouver Food Policy Council meetings b) present project results to Development Working Group within the Vancouver Food Policy Council
Project/Partner Orientation Materials
Students should review these materials prior to the first partner meeting:
- Gibb, N., & Wittman, H. (2013). Parallel alternatives: Chinese-Canadian farmers and the Metro Vancouver local food movement. Local Environment, 18(1), 1–19. DOI: 10.1080/13549839.2012.71476
- Vancouver Food Policy Council website
- Institute for Sustainable Food Systems website
- Request relevant past LFS350 student reports from your TA, including Measuring Urban Food Growing Sites (Fall 2019)
Additional Project/Partner Orientation Materials
The following will be provided at the first community partner meeting:
- But, I. & Bencio, C. (2017). The Role of Small Grocers in Neighbourhood Food Access.
- Working with Local Government on Food Policy (2018)
- Ho, A. & Chen, A. (2017). Vancouver Chinatown Food Security Report
I hope students will learn about...
- local government policy and retail environments impacting food access
I think students will come to appreciate...
- the role of independent food retail in the urban food system
Through this project, students will develop...
- ability to articulate policy challenges and research related policy interventions
Intended Project Outcome (Short Term Outcome)
The Vancouver Food Policy Council and the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems will gain an enhanced understanding of policy precedents to support independent grocers.
Medium Term Outcomes
The project increases our understanding the role of policy in advancing a sustainable and just regional food system in terms of economics, community health, policy, and environmental integrity.
How does the student project contribute to your organization's mission and long-term vision?
The project helps to advance local economies by sustaining the health, well-being and dignity of people (ISFS), and contributes to food sustainability in Vancouver, where food is culturally appropriate, affordable, available, and accessible to all (VFPC).