The TBAFS was established after decades of collaboration and community-led efforts to create a more healthy, equitable and sustainable food system for the region. Leadership from the Food Action Network brought together a diverse range of sectors to draft the Thunder Bay Food Charter (2008). This document served as an overview of the collective vision for a healthy, equitable and sustainable food system and a framework for policy, planning, research, and program development at the municipal and regional levels. It focused on five key priorities: 1) Building community economic development; 2) Ensuring social justice; 3) Fostering population health; 4) Celebrating culture and collaboration; and, 5) Preserving environmental integrity.
In 2008, the Charter was endorsed by the City of Thunder Bay, the District of Thunder Bay Social Services Administration Board, and 33 other municipalities and organizations in the region. In 2012, community leaders gathered at a regional food summit and agreed to develop a food strategy as a way to identify strategic action priorities and implement the Charter. After extensive consultation and deliberation, in 2014 the TBAFS was presented and endorsed by seven municipalities in the Thunder Bay area (Thunder Bay, Neebing, Oliver Paipoonge, Shuniah, Gillies, Conmee, O’Connor).