SIMCOE, JUNE 11, 2013 – If we want our communities to be healthy and vibrant, an important step is ensuring that people living in the area have enough healthy food to eat.
This statement may seem quite simple and logical, but making it a reality can be a challenge.
According to the most recent local data, from 2009, more than 2,300 households in Haldimand and Norfolk lack food security, meaning that they do not have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food that is personally and culturally acceptable. Also, 60 per cent of local residents do not eat at least five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, as recommended in Canada’s Food Guide.
“Hunger, and a lack of healthy food, is a common struggle for a significant portion of our population, especially among those living on social assistance,” said Kathy Page, public health dietitian with the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit. “There is an abundance of local produce in our area, and we need to find ways to get these healthy foods on the plates of more people in Haldimand and Norfolk.”
A group of local organizations and community members have decided to tackle the issue of food security in Haldimand and Norfolk Counties head on.
Following food security forums hosted by the Healthy Communities Partnership and the Health Unit this March, a number of participants came together to brainstorm potential solutions to the food security concerns they see in the two counties.
One suggestion that emerged was the establishment of a Community Food Centre in Norfolk County, where community members could come to learn skills for growing and cooking food, share food with others, and advocate for changes to help make healthy food more accessible for local residents. The centre would also serve as a hub for coordinated emergency food services.
“We have some great ideas on how to address community food security, and the group is excited to put them into action,” said Nicole Mansfield, health promoter with the Health Unit and member of the Healthy Communities Partnership. “We decided the best way to start was with a questionnaire to find out from the community what assets we have locally to move these plans forward.”
Anyone living or working in Haldimand or Norfolk with an interest in providing input, suggestions or information about local food security issues is invited to fill out the online questionnaire. A link to the survey will be available on the Health Unit’s website (www.hnhu.org) until June 30.
“We look forward to using the information collected to finalize our plan to address a major need in our community, specifically for those who have often been excluded from the benefits of quality food many of us take for granted,” added Mansfield.
For more information about local food security or the Healthy Communities Partnership, please contact Nicole at 519-426-6170 ext. 3208 or email[email protected]
Health Promoter, Healthy Communities
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Ext. 3208 at either 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623