The discussion of healthy food access is not complete without a discussion of food equity. Food equity is of primary concern to an ever-growing number of groups and organizations around the world, including nonprofits at local, regional, state and national levels in the U.S.
Sustainable Long Island has a clear definition of food equity:
“Food equity involves universal access to affordable, nutritious and healthy food, with no neighborhood or community at a disadvantage in the regional food system.” It further states that it’s necessary to understand the term food system, which is “the entire range of processes – production, processing, distribution, marketing, consumption and disposal – that keep populations fed.”
In 2010, Sustainable Long Island collaborated with the Center for Social Innovation at Adelphi University on the paper, “Food Equity, Phase I: An Initial Investigation to Increase the Accessibility of Fresh, Healthy Food for All Long Islanders.”
The conclusion is a warning to all:
“Failure to act to address food inequity and other social challenges threatens future regional sustainability. Not only do the harmful consequences of food inequity damage individuals and families, but they hurt the wider community as well by leading to long-term direct and indirect costs that redirect money to health and social services that could have been spent in other areas to improve quality of life.” (Report)
Food security refers to the availability of food and one’s access to it. The World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as existing “when all people at all times have sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.” Most often, the concept of food security is defined as including both physical and economic access to food that meets people’s dietary needs as well as their food preferences. The three main elements of food security are:
- Availability relates to improving sustainable productivity in farming systems, including better natural resources management and conservation, and enabling policies to enhance productivity.
- Access relates to enabling market access for smallholders, and to generating more income from cash crops, livestock products and other enterprises.
- Utilization relates to improving nutrition and food safety, increasing diversity in diets, reducing post-harvest loss and adding value to food.
The issues of accessibility, affordability and sustainability of our food supply presents significant challenges for the future. Although Australia is a food exporting country, about 5% of Australians suffer food insecurity. Issues currently involving food security include:
- There is enough food in the world to feed everyone adequately; the problem is distribution.
- Future food needs can – or cannot – be met by current levels of production.
- National food security is paramount – or no longer necessary because of global trade.
- Globalization may – or may not – lead to the persistence of food insecurity and poverty in rural communities.
- Leadership for Healthy Communities
- Community Food Security Coalition
- The Food Trust
- Growing Power, Growing Food and Justice for All
- Vermont Food-to-Plate Initiative
- Center of Excellence in the Elimination of Disparities
- Healthy Food Retail + Food Equity, Los Angeles Food Policy Council
- Social and Economic Equity in U.S. Food and Agriculture Systems, Rockefeller Foundation
- FACILITATING CHANGE IN THE FOOD JUSTICE MOVEMENT, Why Hunger
- PolicyLink – Equity Tools
- Search for People and Places in Vermont’s Food System by Keyword, Food System Category and Location
- Affordable Local Food, University of Minnesota Extension
- Food Justice Community Food Animation, Food Share
- Promoting Health Equity A Resource to Help Communities Address Social Determinants of Health, CDC
- Community Health and Food Access: The Local Government Role (ICMA)
- Growing Urban Agriculture: Equitable Strategies and Policies for Improving Access to Healthy Food and Revitalizing Communities (Policy Link)
- The Healthy Food Financing Handbook, The Food Trust
- Understanding the Role of Community Development Finance in Improving Access to Healthy Food A Guide for Public Health Practitioners, The Food Trust
- Building Food Justice: Tools for Democracy
- Equity Tools, Equitable Development Toolkit, Health Equity and Place, Policy Link
- Health Equity Resource Toolkit for State Practitioners Addressing Obesity Disparities, CDC
- Community Food Security Assessment Toolkit
- The Color of Food, Applied Research Center