Food Security | Northern Health

Food Security

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.
  • 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.

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.

Stage 1: Efficiency strategies: short-term relief for households experiencing food insecurity
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Stage 2: Increasing community food security through capacity, skills, and engagement
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Stage 3: Increasing community food security and decreasing household food insecurity through policy and systems change
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