How Calgary is tackling food insecurity

Five things you should know about Calgary Eats!

3 October 2022

Seedling in the soil

Kristi Peters, Food Systems Planner with the City of Calgary, examines food insecurity in Calgary, and local action on building a stronger, more equitable food system.

A sustainable and resilient food system is only possible with the infrastructure – the land, people, and built environment – to make it happen. The role of the City of Calgary in the food system is fundamental as an enabler and supporter, and so action implementation is most practical in areas that fall under its direct influence. Implementation is achieved through policy, pilot projects and program development.

Here are the top five things for you to know about what the City of Calgary is doing to build a more sustainable and resilient food system.

The City of Calgary has a Food Action Plan

The CalgaryEATS! Food Action Plan was endorsed by City Council in 2012 and is a shared plan between the City of Calgary and community partners with both City-led actions and community-led actions. City-led actions contribute toward the Food Action Plan vision of providing all Calgarians with access to local, healthy and a secure supply of food, while ensuring the food system is environmentally sustainable and supporting economic development. There are 17 City-led actions that fall under the following categories:

  • Regulation, Legislation and Advocacy
  • Land Use Planning
  • Logistics and Transportation
  • Environment
  • Economic Development
  • Community Programs
  • Education Programs
Produce being sold in a tent

Future focus areas and next steps

A food action plan is more than a report or set of recommendations. It is an ongoing adaptive process of identifying, building, and strengthening positive connections between multiple stakeholders and leveraging partnership, collaborations and resources. The CalgaryEATS! Food Action Plan will continue to evolve to meet the city's food needs. The following themes have emerged as priorities for 2023 - 2026:

  • Broadening culturally diverse food assets;
  • Examining opportunities to encourage healthy and lower cost food retail;
  • Development of a Food Resilience Program;
  • Providing more opportunities for urban food production on City-owned land; and
  • Continued support for a strong local food economy.

Food insecurity is caused by insufficient financial resources to meet household food needs. Food security is the availability of food through a consistent food supply chain. The City of Calgary plays a role in both.

COVID-19 and the role of the City of Calgary

The City of Calgary responded to the pandemic by including food security in its official emergency response and established a Food Security Task Force as a short-term measure. Traditionally, emergency food providers distribute food with little intervention by city government. The pandemic provided an opportunity to learn how the City of Calgary could assist with communication, coordination, and collaboration. The Food Security Task Force has since transformed into the Food Resilience Team and continues to work toward taking lessons learned from the pandemic to create an Emergency Food Response Plan.

Towards greater food system resilience

Despite an increase in local food assets, Calgary will continue to have a strong dependence on the global food system. The long transportation distance of the city’s food travels can make it harder for Calgarians to generally understand where their food comes from, the food system’s vulnerabilities, and how to support a more equitable, sustainable, and resilient food system.

Developing a Food Resilience Program will identify ways that the City of Calgary and its partners can support a food system where food is consistently available, accessible, appropriate, and healthy for Calgarians. The Food Resilience Program will evaluate vulnerabilities in Calgary where crisis events like floods, pandemics or even tornadoes are more likely to affect the reliable functioning of the food system.

Supporting a strong local food economy

Calgary’s local food system consists of a diverse array of businesses, not-for-profits, and other entities including urban and regional farms, food processors, farm stands and farmer’s markets, food hubs, distributors, retailers, restaurants and more. As Calgary’s population continues to grow, demand for food production grows as well. The agriculture and agri-food sector is a major element of Calgary’s food system, contributing to the production of food that Calgarians eat while also providing key employment and economic growth opportunities. Working with internal partners and Calgary Economic Development, the City of Calgary will continue to support a strong local food economy.


  • VCC discusses food security with Mount Royal University’s Institute for Community Prosperity’s James Stauch in the Right to Eat Right.
  • Check out the latest perspectives in food insecurity in our blog series on food security.
  • Support Calgary's local suppliers, learn more about the Farm Stand Program.

The State of Calgary's Emergency Food Assistance System

COVID-19 resulted in shifts in the emergency food system. See how challenges and disruptions continue to shape Canada's food system.