The health and well-being of Ontarians is improved through easy access to learning opportunities provided by well-trained volunteers in vibrant local Community Food Advisor (CFA) Programs across Ontario.
Through this volunteer peer education program, people in communities who have a love of food, and some knowledge and skills in food handling, are provided with technical and leadership training. Upon successful completion of their training, volunteer peer educators become certified as Community Food Advisors and work in their community to improve and promote reliable information and education that promote safe and healthy food selection, preparation, and storage practices. Community Food Advisors are recertified on an annual basis based on completion of community placements and education updates.
The Community Food Advisor Program was developed in 1991 by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and co-funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health. From 2001, the CFA program was coordinated by the Nutrition Resource Centre, at the Ontario Public Health Association. In 2013 the CFA program was transferred to the Ontario Public Health Association, which provides the provincial coordination and administration for the program. The program was funded until October 2014 by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs. The "work" of the program is done at the local level by community volunteers, who are coordinated and supervised by Registered Dietitians and volunteer managers at Public Health Units, community health and resource centres.
In 2014, there were over 210 Community Food Advisors in 14 areas of Ontario. These volunteers provided a total of 814 food literacy services on a variety of food and nutrition topics to Ontarians across the province. The Community Food Advisor program reached 25,260 Ontarians throughout Ontario, in both rural and urban areas. Community Food Advisors contributed 9,500 volunteer hours providing these food literacy services.
In 2010, CFA was noted as a promising practice in the Public Health Agency of Canada report: Improving Cooking and Food Preparation Skills: A Profile of Promising Practices in Canada and Abroad. The Community Food Advisor program continues to be a key program to teach food skills to a wide range of community groups. In addition, it offers a unique opportunity to support Ontario's Local Food Act, through consumers gaining food literacy skills, learning how to choose and prepare healthy local foods, which in turn, can increase demand for and use of health local foods.
Visit Foodland Ontario for good food ideas.
For more information about CFA resources or volunteering as a Community Food Advisor contact:
Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA)
416.367.3313 x 233| 1.800.267.6817 | 416.367.2844 (F)
cfa [at] opha [dot] on [dot] ca | www.opha.on.ca