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By Shannon Lambie

On a dark and chilly November evening, North Vancouver’s City Hall came alive with the energy of close to 200 community members who had all come together for one purpose: to dine and discuss the future of food on the North Shore. This years’ fourth annual Table Matters (an event put on by the North Shore Table Matters Network) invited community members to come out and actively engage with food policy issues and help draft a community food charter, a document which will help establish a shared vision and values around food on the North Shore.  This charter be brought before  municipal councils for adoption and will help set the direction for policy development around food and food production. The evening enabled community members to voice their concerns and share their ideas over a meal and to participate in setting the direction for their community’s food future.

The evening began with participants connecting over a delicious meal provided by Whole Foods Market and The Salvation Army New Hope Cuisine program. During dinner, community leaders Mayor Darrell Mussato, Mayor Richard Walton, Councillor Trish Panz, Councillor Nora Gambioli, and local business owner Sam shared their personal stories and memories of what food meant to them.  After the inspiring presentations, Barbra Adler and Gavin Youngash (from Proud Animal) provided tailor made music and laughter, and throughout the evening, events were recorded in a unique interactive art display by visual facilitator Taraneh Erfan King.

The group discussions which followed dinner proved lively, interactive, and high energy, with each of the twelve groups coming together to agree on what they felt were the three most important issues relating to food at the municipal, provincial, and federal level.  Each group submitted their notes, and currently The North Shore Table Matters Network is working to compile the individual documents into one comprehensive charter which will be introduced and discussed on Monday February 4th at a follow up meeting at the District of North Vancouver Municipal Hall. Register Here for the followup event.

The evening was a wonderful success. Diverse members of the community enjoyed meeting one another and discussing the one thing that connects us all – food. It was exciting to see such a high level of interest and participation, and more exciting still that as a community we were able to work together to produce a food charter representative of the North Shore! The synergistic effect of everyone at Table Matters reminded me of cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead’s famous quote:“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  Community members showed that they are serious about making change to our food system, and our collective future looks promising!

Discussion over Dinner

Smiling and Connecting over Food

New Hope Cuisine

City Hall Full of Energy

Enjoying Dinner