Food security exists “when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, n.d.).
There has been a growing concern in the public health field with the health problems caused by hunger and malnutrition. Food security is the foundation of healthy eating, and also incorporates issues such as food banks and other community mechanisms for feeding hungry people, as well as food safety, ecologically sensitive food production, and local production of food. If food security programs are successful, reliance on food banks can be reduced. Food security requires the development of local, provincial, and national food policies that support local food systems.
In recent years, many communities have been working to develop local food systems that provide dignified access to healthy food at an affordable price, while creating local employment and reducing environmental harm. These local food systems usually include a combination of some or all of the following: community gardening/urban agriculture, roof-top gardens, food boxes, food co-ops, farmers markets, gleaning, community-supported agriculture, food festivals, community kitchens, preserving farmland, organic production, and ensuring access to grocery stores. In some communities, these efforts are supported through local food policy councils that engage the public, non-profit, and private sectors in developing healthy food policies for communities, workplaces, schools, hospitals, and other settings.
Community nutritionists and other public health staff play an important role in such community health improvement efforts, but as with many other areas of public health work, food security also needs to be addressed as a province-wide initiative.
From: A Framework for Core Functions in Public Health, Ministry of Health Services, 2005
For HEAL, community food security is a pre-requisite for healthy eating. People must have, at a reasonable price, access to high quality food.
HEAL’s activities and goals include community food security on a provincial and regional scale as well as for local, smaller communities. The principles of community focus and self-reliance and empowerment are embedded in all HEAL’s activities and are integral to HEAL’s core values.
To learn more about Food Security in general and HEAL’s efforts to enhance food security in the north, check out these documents: