Report calls for better collaboration across sectors to build healthy, just and sustainable food systems for all in Nova Scotia

(Halifax, NS) November 6, 2014 – A community-university research group led by the Food Action Research Centre (FoodARC) at Mount Saint Vincent University, together with the Nova Scotia Food Security Network, today released “Making Food Matter: Strategies for Activating Change Together”, a report on the most comprehensive community-level analysis of food security challenges and opportunities ever undertaken in Nova Scotia. The full report is available at:

The breadth of the project was significant, spanning five years, four case communities, nearly 70 organizational partners, 98 students, and more than 600 research participants. Participating communities were selected to ensure rural and urban representation and inclusion of the diverse elements of food systems in Nova Scotia; the case communities included Eastern Shelburne County, Spryfield (Halifax), Pictou County, and Northeastern Kings County.

The resulting report emphasizes the complexity of community food security in Nova Scotia, notes its many influences, and provides a platform for action. “We all hold a piece of the community food security puzzle and must work together to build on existing momentum, assets and resilience to create and take advantage of opportunities for improving community food security in Nova Scotia,” said Dr. Patricia Williams, Canada Research Chair in Food Security and Policy Change, Director of FoodARC and Professor of Applied Human Nutrition at the Mount. “Nova Scotia is poised 
to be a leader in creating healthy, just and sustainable food systems. We have the energy and wisdom, and now we have the most complete data set we’ve ever had. The time to act is now.”

And while the challenges are complex, the strategies to address problems of food security at the community-level are emerging. Based on research findings, policy analysis and stakeholder input, the report recommends the following as opportune next steps for improving community food security in Nova Scotia through their potential to strengthen both food access and local food systems:
1)Using holistic approaches to make food matter, thinking and working across sectors, jurisdictions and communities.
2)Supporting adequate liveable incomes; further the work already started to explore options.
3)Encouraging mobile or pop-up fresh and local food outlets, improving food access and helping small producers distribute their foods.
4)Pursuing scale-appropriate food regulations, starting with pilot projects to test strategies to create a spectrum of regulations (such as licensing, quality assurance, and labelling) for different scales of activity.
5)Exploring and implementing alternative distribution systems to address the challenges experienced by many small-scale suppliers and the corresponding sourcing challenges of institutions.
This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

About FoodARC

The Food Action Research Centre (or FoodARC) is a research centre at Mount Saint Vincent University committed to research and action to build food security in Nova Scotia and beyond. FoodARC’s projects and activities are grounded in four pillars: research, building capacity, sharing knowledge, and advocacy and policy change. Associated with the Department of Applied Human Nutrition, FoodARC continues the strong Mount tradition of research and community-engaged scholarship in supporting social responsibility, the advancement of women, and preparing students for global citizenship.

About Mount Saint Vincent University

Recognized as a leader in distance and experiential learning, Mount Saint Vincent University takes a personalized approach to education to nurture socially responsible global citizens. The Mount has been nationally recognized for having one of the lowest student-to-professor ratios, for providing students early access to valuable research opportunities, and for facilitating critical advancements in food security, healthy aging, literacy, and childhood development.

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For more information:
Gillian Batten
Manager, Communications
Mount Saint Vincent University