Food Matters Manitoba’s new social media-like online platform will help busy and far-flung organizations network and share resources as they work to feed their communities, says Food Matters Manitoba.
“It’s easy to stay siloed,” said Myreille Fortin, the organization’s social innovation co-ordinator. The hub is a place to discuss different experiences and learn from others, she added.
Food Matters Manitoba is a food advocacy, resource and research organization. It launched its Food Action Hub online platform in mid-June.
The hub acts similarly to a social media site in that members can post, friend each other and join groups to co-ordinate and discuss. Users can also access resources and blog posts. Paid subscribers (the basic iteration is free) can host groups and courses on the site.
Food Matters Manitoba began developing the site in 2019, based on feedback from food-focused community groups. Group members said they wanted to meet more people and hear more perspectives but they don’t have time.
Organizations are also spread across rural and northern Manitoba and have, in the past, struggled to participate in events.
When the Co-operator spoke to Fortin and Kate Anderson, the organization’s development co-ordinator, on June 22 about 90 people had signed up to use the hub.
The main user group comprises people who do direct, in-community food programming, said Anderson. However, she said public health dieticians were also interested to use the hub to connect with groups. Educators, academics and people in agriculture, both at a local and corporate level, have also expressed interest, said Anderson.
As development began on the site, the pandemic pushed many events online. Anderson said that while this reinforced the need for online platforms for connection, it also highlighted the need for “us as people taking the time to reach out to partners individually.”
“Eventually they’ll meet and they’ll get to collaborate,” said Fortin. “That connection piece is what we really want to focus on before we think about bigger things.”