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Food Security

The Population & Public Health program works with a variety of partners to improve food security in BC.

To access any of our Food Security documents, please see the Reports & resources tab. 


What is food security?

Food security is essential to support health and well-being. The goals of food security are to increase phsyical, social, and economic access to nutritious, safe, personally acceptable food with a focus on increasing availability of healthy food produced in a sustainable manner. 

We also talk about household food insecurity, which is when a household worries about or lacks the financial means to buy healthy, safe, personally acceptable food.

How can food security be addressed?

Addressing food security is complex and requires collaboration and commitment across sectors to ensure programs and policies support access to, and availability of, healthy, sustainable food.

Improving food security requires intersectoral action and collaboration.

The Population & Public Health program facilitates provincial coordination of stakeholders from various government ministries, all health authorities, and non-governmental and community organizations to increase intersectoral collaboration and to inform food security initiatives across the province.

Food security requires various approaches. 

In light of emerging research, PPH recognizes the need to distinguish between community food security and household food insecurity. PPH supports the broad systems approach of community food security and its emphasis on sustainable food systems and local community collaboration and capacity building. PPH also supports food insecurity at the household level, which focuses more on the ability to afford healthy food. 

BC Food Security Gateway

The BC Food Security Gateway (the Gateway) is an online resource that provides BC communities with up-to-date food security information.

The Gateway is meant to inform and link you to projects, initiatives, and organizations in British Columbia as well as publications, tools, guides, and news – so that you, too, can contribute to building food security in BC

The Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) manages the Gateway in partnership with the Public Health Association of BC (PHABC).

Our activities

PPH is actively involved in advancing food security in BC and plays a key role in leading and facilitating collaboration across government, health authority and non-government sectors to increase food security. 

PPH’s food security role started in 2005 to support the health authorities with implementation of a health promotion initiative called the Community Food Action Initiative (CFAI). PPH coordinated activities and program evaluation, developed resources, and collated evidence. 

The scope of food security work now extends beyond the CFAI to address multiple strategies that impact food security as outlined in the Ministry of Health core public health program paper on food security. Examples of PPH activities include:

  • Coordinating a provincial health authority food security committee
  • Leading and facilitating collaborative provincial food security planning
  • Collecting, analyzing, and reporting on various measures of food security in BC
  • Working with partners to support knowledge and awareness of food security issues among Aboriginal populations
  • Managing the BC Food Security Gateway, a website that helps people and organizations across BC access food security information and resources
Reports & resources

Increasing Indigenous children’s access to traditional foods

Analysis of food safety barriers to providing non-market traditional foods to Indigenous children in childcare settings, as well as what enables centres to successfully incorporate traditional foods. A collaboration with the BC Aboriginal Child Care Society. Released: December 2016

Priority health equity indicators for BC: Household food insecurity

Analysis of household food insecurity in British Columbia, completed in partnership with researchers at the University of Toronto. Released: August 2016

Regional infographics

Agriculture's Connection to Health: A summary of the evidence relevant to British Columbia

Presents consolidated evidence on current issues related to BC agriculture and its connection to health. Released: April 2016

Food Costing in BC

Food Costing Resources

Food costing involves the biannual collection of food prices in stores across BC for 67 food items in order to calculate the average monthly cost of an adequately nutritious diet. Regional health authority staff and volunteers collect food prices. Audience: Food costing volunteers; Released: February 2016

Food Costing 2015 Report

Data on the average monthly cost of a nutritionally adequate, balanced diet across BC in 2015 based on the National Nutritious Food Basket.

Exploring traditional foods

Short videos that explore the role of traditional foods for Aboriginal people and demonstrate cooking methods. Audience: Youth and youth-orientated organizations, as well as anyone with an interest in Indigenous foods; Released: August 2014

Healthy eating & food security for urban Aboriginal peoples living in Vancouver

A case study exploring access to traditional foods for urban Aboriginal people. Released: September 2011

Promoting healthy eating and sustainable local food in BC

An action framework for public institutions to support the determinants of healthy eating while promoting a local and sustainable food supply. Audience: e.g., health authorities, educational institutions, childcare facilities, and local governments; Released: June 2011

Food for thought: The issues and challenges of food security

A synthesis of current evidence on key issues impacting food security in BC. Released: August 2010


Implementing food security indicators

Detailed descriptions of food security indicators to guide their use as part of the Food Security Core Program. Released: May 2010

A seat at the table: Resource guide for local governments to promote food secure communities

Provides ideas for local governments action on how to build food secure communities. Audience: Local governments, anyone working with local governments to promote food security; Released: June 2008

Community food assessment guide

Resources to help communities undertaking a community food assessment. Audience: Local governments & community organizations; Released: March 2008 (guide) & March 2009 (companion tool)

Community Food Action Initiative (CFAI)

A variety of resources related to the implementation and evaluation of CFAI in B.C. Audience: Health authorities; Released: 2006-2008

CFAI implementation reports

CFAI evaluation

A review of policy options for increasing food security & income security in B.C.

A discussion paper about policy options and other measures that might help address issues of food security and income security in British Columbia. Released: 2007

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