What is Food Security?
Food security “exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” (FAO 1996)
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 (Hamm & Bellows, 2003).
Food security in our communities is dependent upon these four elements:
–Availability of food, (i.e. the quantity of food available to the population);
–Stability of supply, (i.e. the reliability of our food sources over time);
–Accessibility of food, (i.e. the ease with which food may be obtained); and
–Utilization of food, (i.e. the ability and desire to make use of the food (capability, skill & acceptability) (Ostry 2010)
Further to this, food security implies that “food is produced; processed and distributed in a manner that does not compromise the land air or water for future generations” (Food Security Standing Committee 2004)
Food Security Continuum
There are many different strategies for addressing food insecurity. These strategies can be considered along a continuum for short-term strategies that address immediate needs, to long-term strategies that aim to build food security into the future. To build food security we need to move along the continuum.