Health Authority aims to increase food security

Health Authority grants aim to increase food security on Vancouver Island.

Food security is one of the foundations of healthy eating.

But many people on low or fixed incomes are food insecure, said Analisa Blake, Vancouver Island Health Authority project leader of food security and healthy lifestyles.

To create more awareness, access and knowledge about local and healthy food, VIHA is providing grants to organizations through the Community Food Action Initiative. The initiative is offered in partnership with the Ministry of Health, which provides the money.

VIHA has awarded grants since 2006-07 totalling more than $500,000. This year, grants available range from $5,000 to $10,000 totallingabout $60,000.

Blake said projects that address food security usually focus on reaching people on low or fixed incomes, families with children, youth, aboriginal people and seniors.

“These are the groups that are really the most vulnerable – immediately vulnerable to food insecurity,” said Blake. “So they are the priority groups in this initiative.”

In 2007-08, Nanaimo Community Kitchens Society was awarded $9,900. In 2008-09 Nanaimo Foodshare was given $12,500 to fund a collaborative project meant to build food security in the Nanaimo area. The project involved four organizations Nanaimo Foodshare, Community Gardens Society, Community Kitchens and Foodlink.

Crystal Dennison, Nanaimo Foodshare executive director, said the project focused on how the organizations could work together in better ways to support food security in the area.

The initiative was one of the precursors leading to Foodshare becoming a VIHA Food Security Hub. The hubs work as leaders in food security planning in their areas.

“We’re quite thrilled VIHA has an interest in food security,” said Dennison.

Organizations seeking funding must meet one or more of five criteria: awareness about food security, access to local healthy food, food knowledge and skills, community capacity to address local food security and developing and using policies that support food security.

There are four funding categories: developing a community capacity building plan, developing a community food action plan, implementing a community food action plan and identifying and implementing a promising or emerging practice or approaches.

Submissions are accepted until 4 p.m. Dec. 30. For more information on the initiative, eligibility requirements and application forms, please go to www.viha.ca/mho/food/food_security/.

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