Impact Stories

Understanding and addressing food security in British Columbia

You’ve likely heard the term food security, but what exactly does it mean? This United Way BC blog post explores food security in our province; delving deeper into the definition of food security, examining its complexities in BC, and discussing the interconnectedness between food security and other societal factors. By providing a more nuanced understanding of food security, we hope to help you discover how you can play a crucial role in making a positive impact. 

What is the definition of food security?

The definition of food security is a state in which individuals and households not only have physical access to enough nutritious food but also the economic and social means to obtain it. In 2022, almost 860,000 British Columbians (about the populations of Vancouver and Kelowna combined) did not, and lived in a food-insecure household. For children under 18, the number was much higher at almost 22%. To understand the multifaceted nature of food security, we must look beyond the surface of having enough to eat.

Our province’s rich cultural diversity and unique geographical challenges mean food security takes on added importance. In urban and rural areas alike, even the definition of food security varies. While urban centers face issues of affordability and access, rural communities grapple with challenges related to transportation and the availability of fresh, locally produced food. This intricate tapestry of concerns requires targeted and community-specific solutions. 

What is food security? Food sovereignty and food security.

Expanding our understanding of food security involves acknowledging the parallel concept of food sovereignty. Food sovereignty emphasizes not just the availability and access to food but also the right of communities to shape their own food systems. In BC, this means recognizing and respecting the diverse cultural practices and traditional food systems that contribute to the overall well-being of communities, particularly Indigenous communities. 

Engaging in a dialogue that considers both food security and food sovereignty is critical for fostering resilience in BC’s food systems. It’s about empowering communities to take control of their food production, distribution, and consumption in a sustainable and culturally sensitive manner. By intertwining these two concepts, we can develop solutions that not only address immediate hunger but also promote long-term food security and community empowerment. 

Why is food security important? 

Delving into why food security is important unveils a web of interconnected issues that extend far beyond access to sustenance. In BC, where we celebrate the diversity of our communities, ensuring food security is an essential commitment to social justice. It is a recognition that everyone, regardless of their background or circumstance, deserves the opportunity to lead a healthy and fulfilling life. 

The impact of food security resonates across various sectors. Health outcomes are intricately linked to dietary habits, and individuals facing food insecurity are more susceptible to chronic illnesses. Moreover, education is profoundly affected as students experiencing hunger may struggle to concentrate and perform well academically. Economic productivity also suffers when individuals are not adequately nourished, creating a cycle of poverty that is challenging to break. 

By addressing food security, we contribute to building a healthier, more resilient province for everyone. It’s a step towards creating a society where every individual can reach their full potential, unburdened by the challenges of hunger.  

Addressing food security – how you can help.

Now, let’s explore tangible steps you can take to make a meaningful impact on addressing food security in BC. At United Way BC, we believe in the power of collective action, and your involvement is crucial. 

Visit our comprehensive food security web page. Going beyond statistics, this information provides an in-depth look at the challenges faced by different BC communities. Discover insightful articles, reports, and interviews that shed light on the various dimensions of food security. By understanding these nuances, we can tailor our efforts to address the specific needs of each community. 

Donate to Support Targeted Initiatives: Your financial contribution can make a difference in the lives of those facing food insecurity. Whether it’s funding community gardens, supporting local food producers, or advocating for policies that promote food security, your donation becomes a catalyst for positive change. 

Engage in Community-Based Solutions: Communities play a pivotal role in shaping their own food security. Get involved in local initiatives, support farmers’ markets, and participate in community gardens. By actively engaging with and supporting grassroots efforts, you contribute to building a sustainable and resilient food system that benefits everyone. 

By understanding the unique challenges faced by different BC regions and communities, we can work towards building a more resilient and equitable food system. Your involvement, whether through learning, donating, or actively participating in community-based initiatives, is a crucial step towards a future where every resident of British Columbia has access to nutritious, culturally preferable food, contributing to the well-being of our entire province. Together, let’s create positive change and foster a more food-secure British Columbia for generations to come.