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New local food directory connects Thunder Bay consumers and producers

The directory was created by the Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy

If you enjoy eating local food and supporting Thunder Bay-area farmers and producers, a newly launched online tool will make your search much easier.

The Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy (TBAFS) has created a digital directory that connects consumers to producers, restaurants and merchants.

Developed by Beanstalk Consulting, the site features several dynamic components including an online directory for primary producers and local food processors, links to local food markets and retailers, and profiles of local restaurants and how they use local foods.

In the future it will also include information on agri-food-related events such as festivals and fairs, and resources and learning opportunities.

The ultimate goal is to provide links to about 75 businesses that sell locally grown or produced food.

Support for small business and eating local food products has increased across Ontario in recent years.

But in a news release, TBAFS said existing supply chain challenges have been exacerbated by COVID-19 restrictions, making the launch of the digital directory timely.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how important our local agri-food sector is to our health, our social well-being, and our economy," said TBAFS coordinator Karen Kerk.

"Before COVID, info about local food was available in a piecemeal way, but now it's all consolidated under one roof," Kerk added.

TBAFS was selected to pilot the directory as part of Digital Main Street, a program created by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas supported by numerous corporate partners. 

Federal and Ontario government funding has allowed the program to expand and support more businesses to go digital in response to the impacts of COVID-19.

"Shopping local and supporting main street is as important as ever. We're excited to launch the DMS Lab pilot with the Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy," said John Kiru, executive director of the Toronto Association of BIAs.

Funding was provided through the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.

– TBNewsWatch