Now Hiring! Request for Proposals: Central Northern Regional Coordinator

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Position: Central Northern Regional Coordinator
Organization: Local Food and Farm Co-ops
Location: prefer Thunder Bay or nearby, Ontario

1. Summary and Background

The Local Food and Farm Co-ops is currently accepting proposals for a Central Northern Regional Coordinator based in Thunder Bay or nearby, for a short term contract from September to December with the possibility of renewal.

Project summary:

The CNRC will provide value chain coordination to develop opportunities in the Thunder Bay and First Nations communities that existing resources have not been able to meet. These include exciting new initiatives for infrastructure (food hub and online marketing through public health units and regional distributors, new aggregated buying through food co-ops or collectives, and educational opportunities to increase local food procuremenet and access in northern Ontario.

The Central Northern Regional Coordinator (CNRC) will work closely with the NWO Regional Coordinator and the NEO Regional Coordinator and will be supervised by the Project Manager. LFFC partners include the Rural Agri-Innovation Network in Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay Food Strategy, the Northern Food Distribution Network (coordinated by LFFC, including 16 organizations involved in food distribution, food security, and agriculture in northern Ontario), as well as our northern member co-ops such as Cloverbelt Local Food Co-op in Dryden, Black River Co-op in Matheson, Café Meteor in Temiskaming. Discussions have been undertaken about food hub initiatives with the Regional Distribution Centre leads, as well as Waubetek Business Development Corporation, KI, Red Lake and Sioux Lookout communities, Lac Seul community and NAN. The CNRC will work collaboratively with LFFC partners to help strengthen the regional food system in northern Ontario through these existing and new connections.

Eligibility and guidelines

This RFP is open to organizations or consultants with expertise in project development in their regional (northern Ontario) food and farming sector, and a network of contacts and partners in their region. Successful proposals will include access to a home or organization office for equipment and office costs. Knowledge of the food and farming sector is essential.

2. Organization description

The Local Food and Farm Co-operative (LFFC)

Mission:  Fostering vibrant, resilient, connected and sustainable food and farm co-operatives

LFFC is an incorporated non-profit co-operative that has provided organizing and development support for food and farming co-operatives and enterprises in Ontario since 2009. LFFC catalyzed or supported the recent growth of local farms and new collaborations in northern Ontario, including the Northwest Beef Co-op, Black River Co-op, Cafe Meteor co-op development, the Northern Food Distribution Network, Mill Market redevelopment, Cloverbelt Local Food Co-op and Muskoka North Good Food Co-op. Local food and farm co-ops in Ontario have a significant impact on Ontario's economy, and have been a key tool for community economic development in northern Ontario's local food and agriculture sector, as new farmers enter the area and new markets are established. Ontario's food and farm co-ops provide stable markets for hundreds of regional producers and processors, and support thousands of jobs directly and indirectly. With two and three times multipliers in the local economy, community development through food and farm co-ops has an impact well beyond the co-ops' own revenues.

LFFC grew rapidly, and incorporated as a non-profit co-operative in 2017. In 2014, with Ontario Ministry of Agriculture support, LFFC managed the Regional Food Hub Project with business and feasibility planning for four co-op food hubs, two in the north. In 2017, LFFC launched the Co-op Field Schools (training and development for sector co-ops and enterprises), the Peer2Peer Mentoring program and the Trade Routes North Project to develop regional infrastructure for the local food sector in northern Ontario. The programs generated hundreds of online resources and supported enterprises across northern Ontario. LFFC has engaged women leaders, indigenous and marginalized groups in the sector; an above average number of women and marginalized groups are the owners and operators of new forms of co-operative farming, processing and markets. As new entrepreneurs, the support that LFFC offers through training, mentorship and exchanges among co-ops at different stages is invaluable to their success.

Through mentorships, regional forums, workshops, one on one meetings and planning sessions, the LFFC has also connected with northern communities in the development of a Regional Distribution Centre, including Sioux Lookout and KI. Discussions have been undertaken with Waubetek, NAN, and Red Lake. In 2018, discussions for a food distribution hub in the Aroland area, involving 14 communities, began.

Requests from new communities (remote, indigenous and Francophone) guided the current planning to expand the demographic and geographic reach of LFFC's successful programs. Since LFFC's work began, there has been increasing need for these activities in the north, sometimes stretching LFFC's current resources beyond capacity or forcing opportunities to be missed. In 2018, LFFC completed a "Keys to Success" report to help retail food co-ops manage increasing pressure in an intensely competitive environment, as transnationals compete for grocery share from Canadian grocery corporations, driving prices down, and online sales entice retail customers to armchair shopping. In 2018-2019, LFFC undertook research to track trends and challenges in the current food system, aggregating this material in a report and presentations at the winter Assembly entitled "The State of the Local Food System". 

The research showed challenges across the industry as well as important innovations in a rapidly changing Canadian foodscape. LFFC's mandate provides the infrastructure to support local food and farm enterprises in preparing for and benefiting from these changes and opportunities. In addition, the need for specific collaborative solutions such as the Northern Food Distribution Network, support for new northern farm groups and co-ops, and flexible food hubs or depots for distribution outside urban centres was identified as a significant need, and an important collaborative solution to the various changes underway in the industry.

3. Project Activities

The activities involved are:

  1. Development of existing and new contacts for a food hub network in northern Ontario as part of LFFC’s three year infrastructure development project

  2. Specifically participation by invitation in meetings and initiatives of regional First Nations

  3. Regular reporting, planning and discussion with LFFC team

  4. Support for events in which LFFC is a partner

  5. Promotion of LFFC and associated programs (such as the Fair Finance Fund)

4. Deliverables

  1. Completed report describing opportunities, challenges and contacts for strong regional food distribution networks and providing recommendations for next steps. Includes discussion of foodways in relation to strong regional food systems, traditional food procurement strategies and solutions to build access to culturally appropriate foods sourced regionally

  2. Regular attendance at team meetings (every second week)

  3. Cost and product assessment matching local availability with local demand and identifying products that are difficult to find or unavailable locally that cannot be substituted.

Please note that further outcomes may be requested or some changes may be necessary as the project develops. 

5. Project Budget 

Budget for this contract is in a range of $8000-10,000, allocated commensurate with experience. The There is potential for extension in 2020 depending on funding.

6. Bidder Qualifications

The candidate will have:

  • Ability to work well with others with patience, tolerance and a willingness to consider others’ opinions

  • Ability to work with a supervisor as well as independently

  • Knowledge of the local food and farm sector 

  • Willingness to travel

  • Experience with non-profits and social enterprises

  • Experience with indigenous communities

  1. Content of proposal

Submissions should provide the following items as part of their proposal for consideration:

  • Description of experience in the local food and farm sector (any and all experience from farm to fork, co-operative business, social enterprise or business development experience). 

  • Description of experience working with a team and a supervisor

  • Examples of other contracts or projects related to the local food and farm sector (specific to financing preferably) 

  • List of any other project related experience.

  • Description of general plan of approach to project

  • References (two)

7. Proposal Evaluation Criteria

LFFC will evaluate all proposals based on the following criteria. To ensure consideration for this Request for Proposal, your proposal should be complete and include all of the following criteria:

  • Overall proposal suitability: proposed concepts must meet the scope and needs included herein and be presented in a clear and organized manner

  • Organizational Experience: proposals will be evaluated on the organization’s or individual’s experience as it pertains to the scope of this project

  • Previous work: applicants will be evaluated on examples of their work pertaining to the requirements of the project.

  • Results of reference checks

Each proposal must be submitted to by 5:00 pm on August 15, 2019.