Serving Success: Guelph-Wellington's Food Solutions

Funding provided through the Smart Cities Challenge

People having a picnic in community garden
Man holding box of groceries
Woman working in community kitchen
Prepared meals in containers

The City of Guelph and County of Wellington have been stirring up positive change with their initiative, Our Food Future. Their efforts have yielded impressive results, preventing over 168,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, serving close to 170,000 nutritious meals, and transforming over 84,000 tonnes of surplus food diverted, recycled or upcycled into new products.

So, how did they do it? By collaborating with over 100 community organizations including local government, business, research, and academia, Our Food Future is furthering its goal of building a circular food economy.

How Our Food Future is partnering with the community to tackle food insecurity

Supporting new Canadians: New Canadians face challenges adapting to gardening in the Canadian climate, which can be vastly different from their home countries. Our Food Future addresses this issue through the Food From Home = Food For Home initiative. This program provides support and resources to help new Canadians learn how to garden effectively in their new local climate, enabling them to grow foods from their homeland. The community garden offers a diverse selection of over 200 herbs and vegetables from 20 different countries, including unique and hard-to-find varieties like Aleppo peppers, Malabar spinach, and Molokhia. This not only supports food production, but it also enriches the local food landscape and empowers new Canadians to maintain a connection to their cultural heritage through gardening.

Did you know?

"Groceries from The SEED" initiative not only provides affordable, nutritious food but also supports local farmers and producers? By partnering with regional growers, this program creates a sustainable food ecosystem that benefits both the community and the agricultural sector.

Making food accessible: For some households, the increasing cost of groceries is preventing them to put food on their table. That is why Groceries from The SEED pioneers an online pay-what-you-choose grocery store with free delivery. This innovative approach ensures that affordable and nutritious food is accessible to all members of the community. Currently, this program serves 1,275 households in Guelph-Wellington, providing them with a vital resource for obtaining essential groceries. As one grateful customer shared, "I am on disability so I don't have a lot of excess money! The SEED's free products help me!" This initiative serves as a lifeline for many, addressing the urgent need for accessible and affordable food options, especially for individuals facing financial constraints.

Eliminating food waste: Surplus produce often goes to waste, contributing to food wastage and environmental concerns. Community FEWD (Food Equity With Dignity) offers a mobile food security initiative, repurposing surplus produce to create nourishing meals. This not only prevents food from ending up in landfills but also addresses the pressing issue of food insecurity. Since May 2022, Community FEWD has created 12,000 meals, diverting five tonnes of food waste and counting! The initiative's founder and Chef, Yasi Zorlutuna, is driven by a mission to provide equitable, dignified, and nourishing meals to everyone, regardless of their economic status. This initiative is a model of sustainable and equitable food distribution.

Abandoning single-use for good: Single-use containers contribute significantly to environmental pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Friendlier offers an eco-friendly alternative by promoting the reuse of containers. With over 400,000 containers reused, they have successfully saved 63,000 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions. Restaurants, grocers, and food service providers in Guelph-Wellington are embracing Friendlier's reusable containers. This widespread adoption not only demonstrates the effectiveness of the initiative but also signifies a positive shift towards more sustainable practices in the local business community.

The organizations mentioned above feature only some of the programs made possible through the Our Food Future initiative. Together, the City of Guelph and County of Wellington, along with their partners, are creating a recipe for success with a future that is inclusive, sustainable, and delicious!

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What is the Smart Cities Challenge?

The Smart Cities Challenge (SCC) is a Government of Canada initiative that urged communities to adopt a smart cities approach to improve residents' lives through innovation, data, and connected technology. SCC has helped enable innovative and transformative change across Canadian communities. The City of Guelph and County of Wellington are one of four winners.

Quick facts about the Smart Cities Challenge

  • The Smart Cities Challenge was launched in 2017, encouraging communities of all sizes from across the country to take bold action to improve outcomes for their residents by applying a smart cities approach that leverages connected technologies and data.
  • The first round of the Smart Cities Challenge is closed. The Government of Canada announced the four winners (City of Montréal, Québec; Nunavut Communities, Nunavut; City of Guelph and County of Wellington, Ontario; and Town of Bridgewater, Nova Scotia) on May 14, 2019.
  • The City of Guelph and County of Wellington won one of the two $10M Smart Cities Challenge prizes.