Project aims to support healthy food supply

North Island College and Vancouver Island Health are teaming up to ensure the region’s local food supply remains stable and sustainable

North Island College and Vancouver Island Health are teaming up to ensure the region’s local food supply remains stable and sustainable.

The two organizations have launched the Strathcona Food Security project to identify current assets and gaps in established community programs aimed at improving food security in the district. The project would also work to create a community food atlas, a one-stop shop to find locally grown food in the community.

Cynthia Bendickson, a co-ordinator of the project, made a presentation to the Strathcona Regional District board last week to explain the importance of the project.

“Food safety is one component of food security but it also looks at sufficiency and nutrition and ensures there is access to food that meets our dietary needs and is culturally appropriate,” Bendickson said.

As part of the project, Vancouver Island Health, formerly the Vancouver Island Health Authority, will provide roughly $10,000 to $15,000 annually to what’s called a food hub. The goal is to build a food security hub in the Strathcona Regional District which would oversee existing food security programs and provide support for established programs to network with one another and build on what they’re already doing.

“The hubs provide co-ordination and leadership for collective action,” Bendickson said.

The group plans to have completed a study by December 2013 to determine whether a food security networking hub is feasible for the region. The study will look at things like which existing organization could take on the role of the food security hub, which organizations would sit on a food action committee and whether or not Vancouver Island Health’s hub model would address any identified needs in the region.

The action plan, which would actually build on the needs and address any gaps identified in a needs assessment is expected to be complete by March 2014. As part of the Food Security project, a public survey will be available in the next few weeks on the project website at http://strathconafoodsecurity.wordpress.com/

A series of stakeholder workshops will be held in late October and early November.