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New program encourages local food and drink

The Eat Drink Local campaign allows local restaurants to partake in a province-wide program
From left to right: Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, CEO of BC Restaurant Services Association Ian Tostenson, Co-owner of RaUDz Creative Concepts Audrey Surro, CEO of BC Wine Institute Miles Prodan and Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson announce the new Eat Drink Local program, Saturday March 24 at RauDZ. - Image Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

Diners at B.C. restaurants are in for a local treat in 2017 with the new Eat Drink Local campaign.

Eat Drink Local will offer family, casual and fine dining restaurants, cafes, pubs, hotels and catering companies in B.C. the opportunity to participate in a provincewide program and promotion in which they can showcase their creativity and skill with local products and flavours.

Interested restaurants will be invited to develop and submit a special fresh sheet, with application details available online. The timing of the month-long local feast will be announced shortly and will be timed to limit overlap with other dining events.

The program will also promote local foods through a website that will serve as a hub for all things related to eating and drinking local. The site will include restaurant and chef profiles, trends, timetables and tips on the wide range of local ingredients being harvested and served in B.C. and a searchable directory by region and city of where to eat and drink local.

As part of the B.C. government’s ongoing efforts to build the local agrifood and seafood economy, the Ministry of Agriculture is contributing close to $225,000 to the program. Eat Drink Local is expected to increase the demand and sales of local food in the restaurants, build consumer awareness about the quality, range and flavour of B.C. foods, and help residents and tourists easily identify where local flavours are being served.

The $225,000 will be for the first year of the program, then decrease over the years, said Norm Letnick, minister of agriculture and MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country.

“B.C. restaurants are one of the reasons people are excited about living and visiting here. The Eat Drink Local program will help continue to build on the connections and passion British Columbians have for foods, and help locals and tourists alike identify and enjoy local foods and beverages,” he said.

B.C.’s agri-food and seafood sector set a record $13 billion in revenue in 2015, and added 6,800 new jobs to the workforce, bringing the total number to 63,000 British Columbians working in the agri-food and seafood sector.

“Restaurant support for the B.C. wine industry is widely recognized as the cornerstone for today’s consumer enthusiasm for 100 per cent B.C. wine,” said Miles Prodan, president and CEO of the BC Wine Institute.