Food security means having “enough of the kinds of food we want to eat,” whereas moderate food insecurity is defined as “sometimes not enough food to eat,” and severe food insecurity is defined as “often not enough to eat” (Canadian Institute for Health Information, 2004).
Because vulnerable populations are just that—vulnerable—they require special attention. Recreation facilities, non-threatening and inclusive, are in a unique position to impact such populations.
Action: Identify vulnerable groups within your community
- You’ll want to ask:
- Who has access to healthy foods?
- Who has limited access to healthy foods?
- Which community resources or organizations can work with us to provide healthy foods, and how?
Action: Organize sustainable ways of providing healthy foods to at-risk groups
Consider the following tried and true methods:
Community gardens are spaces where people share the basic resources of land, water and sunlight. An allotment garden is a special type of community garden with several small plots of open land for growing vegetables, fruits and cut flowers. These allotments are tended by individual families.
Many community gardens feature a common space tended by a group of people. The benefits?
- Access to affordable, fresh fruits and vegetables in urban spaces;
- Promotion of community spirit and cooperation; and
- Maintenance of the land.
For further information on community gardens see the Toronto Community Housing Community Gardening Manual or Food Share Good Healthy Food For All: Community Gardening 101.
Community kitchens bring people together to cook in a public space. They can work in many different ways, depending on the organization and the people involved. In some, people get together to cook a single meal, while in others, people make large portions to take home for their families. Still others have special cooking times for vegetarians, different ethnic groups, or for people with special needs. The benefits?
- Lower costs;
- Increased sense of community; and
- Improved healthy cooking knowledge and skills.
For further information on community kitchens see Basic Steps-How to Start a Community Kitchen or Community Best Practices Toolkit: A Guide for Community Organizations in Newfoundland and Labrador.
A Pocket Market is a small, regular market of two or three tables, selling fresh local produce to the public. The Pocket Market idea was developed by Food Roots, a food co-op, which gathers local produce from farmers and sells it through the Pocket Market. The idea is that these markets make fresh, healthy food more readily available and affordable to vulnerable populations.
What differentiates Pocket Markets from other regional farmers markets is that generally they are smaller and are intended to serve a specific neighborhood or community.
For further information on pocket markets see The Pocket Market Toolkit: Your Online Guide to Establishing Pocket Markets.
Good Food or Fresh Food Boxes are not-for-profit organizations that buy fresh local produce in bulk and sell it at wholesale prices. The aim of these initiatives is to help families eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) offers a way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from the farmer. The idea is that consumers buy “shares” from the farmer. Typically the share consists of a box of fresh seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.
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