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A Short History of Food Security in BC

Food security work has a long history in BC and involves collaboration across public, private, and non-profit sectors. The public health sector plays a key role in supporting food security in BC, which is demonstrated in the list of notable milestones below.

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1980s and 1990s

There are growing numbers of community based efforts to connect people to food and food skills learning through initiatives such as community kitchens and community gardens.

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1989

School Garden Guidelines are published by the BC Ministry of Health to help teachers instruct students about nutrition and the environment.

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1995

Kamloops forms BC’s first municipal food policy council. Policy councils allow diverse representatives to collaborate on needed and meaningful changes to local food systems.

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2000

Recognizing the need for data and evidence about household food insecurity, the Community Nutritionists Council of BC and Dietitians of Canada begin annual reporting of the Cost of Eating in BC. This data is used by non-profits, local governments, health authorities and government to increase awareness of food insecurity and to assist with health planning.

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2002

Consultations begin about renewing the public health act and developing the core programs that are important for population health. Food Security is included as a core program, heavily influenced by the research outlined in Making the Connection: Food Security and Public Health (2004). This was a seminal document that provided evidence that lack of community food security is a critical public health concern. It also provided evidence that community food security interventions are effective in promoting health and it identified the role of the health sector in building community food security in BC.

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2005

The Provincial Health Officer focuses his Annual Report on food. This comprehensive report goes far beyond typical health reports of its time that explore food and diet-related diseases. It includes chapters about agriculture and food processing, food security, safety and sustainability of the food supply, as well as a chapter on food and the Aboriginal population.

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2006

Two critical reports that support the inclusion of food security into health authority prevention portfolios are completed: the Food Security Core Programs Evidence Review and the Food Security Model Core Program Paper. (Both reports were updated in 2011-2014).

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2006

The Community Food Action Initiative (CFAI) is launched as the first provincial health promotion initiative in Canada to recognize and financially support community-led activities to increase food security. Provincial level coordination begins in 2006, along with the roll out of CFAI funding to each of the health authorities.

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2011-2013

The Food Security Evidence Review is revised and updated by the Ministry of Health, followed by revision of the Food Security Model Core Program Paper by the Ministry of Health, PHSA and the five regional health authorities in 2013-14.

For information about specific BC food security programs and initiatives, see the Food security agencies, networks, and policy councils page.