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Ont. to support local food procurement

The Ontario government plans to invest $24 million over three years in the logistics needed to put Ontario-grown food into schools, hospitals, other institutions and the food service sector.

“Ontario’s food producers grow, raise and produce fresh, high-quality food products that are among the best in the world,” provincial Ag Minister Leona Dombrowsky said in a release Monday. “This initiative will help to connect procurers to Ontario’s producers while enhancing the awareness and visibility about buying local.”

“When we buy Ontario, everyone wins. It’s good for our families, good for farmers, good for the rural economy and good for the environment,” Premier Dalton McGuinty said in the same release. “In these challenging economic times, it’s important we work together.”

Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) already operates the Savour Ontario program, part of the province’s Pick Ontario Freshness strategy, to promote and feature Ontario-grown food in fine and vacation dining restaurants. About 100 restaurants now participate in that program.

The government said in the same release Monday that it will also make it easier to buy Ontario food in stores and supermarkets.

“Now, even more Ontario foods — such as meat, dairy, eggs and bakery products — can use the Foodland Ontario brand in their marketing,” the province said.

Foodland Ontario’s website cites products that now include its label, such as the Compliments brand Ontario chicken, turkey beef and pork available in the Sobeys chain of supermarkets; Ontario corn-fed beef, available through Valu-mart and other outlets; Western Creamery brand dairy products; Gay Lea’s Ontario sour cream; and Gray Ridge Egg Farms’ Ontario eggs.

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