Press Release: Privatization of hospital food services unlikely to help NB farmers, says NFU-NB

Posted: Mar 3, 2017

Fredericton, Friday, March 3, 2017 – The National Farmers Union in NB questions how the NB provincial government’s announcement from early February to sign a ten year contract with Sodexo will support the growth of the province’s farmers and our growing local food economy.

The government has been working on concrete steps to meet the goal of getting 30% NB-produced foods into schools, with incremental steps starting in fall 2017.  The promise had been to start with the school system and then expand to the hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions once the local distribution systems and infrastructure are in place.

“The announcement flies in the face of the Local Food and Beverages Strategy and the inclusion of new farmers in the Economic Growth plan.  It’s like one branch of government is not talking with the others,” says Ted Wiggans, NFU-NB President.  “One of the recommendations we have given all along to government is that for a local food strategy to work it cannot be implemented solely by the Department of Agriculture.  We had been assured that interdepartmental collaboration is part of the strategy, but clearly, it is not.  It is almost a given that large corporations like Sodexo do not deal with local farmers.  If Sodexo partners with the Liberal government to provide hospital food services, little New Brunswick food will find its way on to the trays of patients.”

The NFU-NB stands in solidarity with the hospital workers who will be losing their jobs as a result of this new contract.  Cutting good paying jobs in our food system also seems quite contrary to the government’s mandate for creating more jobs and making NB the best place to raise a family.

“It’s actions like this that prove once again that our government is not looking at the future with a food sovereignty lens. If we were truly concerned about the survival of our family farms, about increasing the number of farmers in the province, and about ensuring access to healthy foods that contribute to local economies, it wouldn’t just be Minister Doucet chanting the Buy Local slogan, but an entire government making it its mission,” says Rébeka Frazer-Chiasson, NFU-NB member.

“It’s my dream as a farmer to think that I could one day produce food to rehabilitate sick people and to contribute to the health of our population. This is hard to do, however, if the decisions about what is consumed in our hospitals are made in Montreal, based on profits rather than on growing our local economies or protecting the environmental health of our regions.”

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The National Farmers Union in NB is one of two general farm organizations representing New Brunswick farm families in all agricultural commodities.  NFU members believe that the problems facing farmers are common problems, and that farmers producing diverse products must work together to advance effective solutions. The NFU works toward the development of economic and social policies that will maintain the family farm as the primary food-producing unit.

 

Contacts:

Rébeka Frazer-Chiasson, NFU-NB Board Member (506) 626-0057

Amanda Wildeman, NFU-NB Executive Director (506) 260-0087