Safe, secure, and reliable food
Access to food is a basic need. Broadly, food security is when all people have access to safe, nutritious, and personally acceptable food.
- A community is “food secure” when everyone obtains a safe, personally acceptable, nutritious diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes self-reliance and social justice. (Adapted from Hamm and Bellows, 2003)
- Household food insecurity is when a household worries about or lacks the financial means to buy healthy, safe, personally and culturally acceptable food.
- The primary cause of household food insecurity is the lack of sufficient income to purchase food.
- Food sovereignty is the rights of all people to define their own food system, and to access food in ways that are personally and culturally appropriate.
Food insecurity profoundly impacts the physical, mental, and social well-being of communities and residents in northern BC. Addressing food security is complex, and requires collaboration across a variety of settings and sectors, to ensure that all northern British Columbians have access to safe, reliable, and nutritious food, within a food system that is healthy, resilient, and sustainable.
Population Health Dietitians work to:
- Increase community food security and food sovereignty through local community collaboration and capacity building
- Advocate for policy changes that decrease household food insecurity
Food Security can be addressed through a continuum:
There are 3 stages that make up the food security continuum:
Stage 1 strategies are immediate and short-term, and do not address the underlying causes of household food insecurity, such as low income, and inequitable access to food.
- Guidelines/tips for eating on a budget
- Guidelines for healthier food choices in food banks, food hamper programs.
Stage 2 strategies focus primarily on community food security; strategies that build resilient, healthy, and sustainable food systems.
Stage 3 strategies are systems redesign strategies that seek to provide upstream solutions that primarily work to decrease household food insecurity, but also increase community food security.
- A Food Policy for Canada
- Poverty reduction strategies
- Social housing initiatives
- Universal school meal programs
- Household food insecurity surveillance: (Food Costing in BC 2017 report, First Call’s 2015 BC Child Poverty Report Card)
- Advocating for policy change: Municipal Election Engagement Toolkit for Food Security Advocates
- Municipal Official Community Plans and Sustainability Plans
- Healthy Built Environment Linkages Toolkit – Food Systems Section
- Provincial and Regional Food Networks (BC Food Systems Network)
Neither community food security nor household food insecurity can be achieved on their own. A community cannot be truly food secure if some members of the community do not have the financial means to participate in the food system. Conversely, households cannot become food secure without access to a sustainable, and resilient food system.