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 few definitions:
- 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 (infographic, Provincial Health Services Authority) 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
- Holiday donations: How can you best support your local food bank? - NH Stories
Stage 2 strategies focus primarily on community food security; strategies that build resilient, healthy, and sustainable food systems.
- BC Farmers’ Markets - BC Association of Farmers' Markets (BCAFM)
- Community gardens, community kitchens
- Farm 2 School BC - Public Health Association of BC (PHABC)
- Good food box programs, bulk buying clubs, buy local events
- IMAGINE Community Grants - Northern Health
- Local food networks
- Seedy Saturday events
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.
- 2015 BC child poverty report card (PDF) - First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition
- A food policy for Canada - Government of Canada
- BC Food Systems Network (BCFSN)
- Food costing in BC 2017: Assessing the affordability of healthy eating (PDF) - BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC)
- Municipal election engagement toolkit for food security advocates (PDF) - Working group of food security advocates
- Municipal official community plans and sustainability plans
- Social housing initiatives
- The Healthy Built Environment (HBE) linkages toolkit - Food systems (pg. 40) (PDF) – Population & Public Health, BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC)
- Together BC: British Columbia’s poverty reduction strategy (PDF) - Government of BC
- Universal school meal programs
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.
- Household food insecurity in Canada - PROOF, Food Insecurity Policy Research
- Household food insecurity: Guidelines for health professionals (booklet) - Northern Health
- Household food insecurity: Guidelines for health professionals (one-pager) - Northern Health
- Northern health: Household food insecurity in 2011-2012 (infographic) - Population & Public Health, Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA)
- Social determinants of health and health inequalities - Government of Canada
- The affordability of health eating in BC 2017 (infographic) - BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC)
- Agriculture’s connection to health: A summary of the evidence relevant to British Columbia (PDF) - Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA)
- BC Farmers’ Market Trail - BC Association of Farmers' Markets (BCAFM)
- BC Food Security Gateway - Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), Public Health Association of BC (PHABC)
- Food Secure Canada (FSC)
- Food security Rapid Action Resources for local government – BC Healthy Communities (PlanH)
- Indigenous Food Systems Network - Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty (WGIFS)
- Planning for food security: A toolkit for the COVID-19 pandemic (PDF) - First Nations Health Authority (FNHA)
- Social determinants of Indigenous peoples’ health resources - National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health (NCCIH)