Integrating food security into public health and provincial government departments in British Columbia, Canada

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Seed, B. ; Lang, T. ; Caraher, M. ; Ostry, A. (2013)

Food security policy, programs, and infrastructure have been incorporated into Public Health and other areas of the Provincial Government in British Columbia, including the adoption of food security as a Public Health Core Program. A policy analysis of the integration into Public Health is completed by merging findings from 48 key informant interviews conducted with government, civil society, and food supply chain representatives involved in the initiatives along with relevant documents and participant/direct observations. The paper then examines the results within the context of historic and international trends and theoretical models of food policy, community food security, and applied policy research. Public Health re-emerged as a driver of food security in BC—both as a key player and in positing the public’s health as a driver in food security and food systems. While Public Health’s lead role supported an increase in legitimacy for food security in BC, interviewees described a clash of cultures between Public Health and civil society. The clash of cultures occurred partly as a result of Public Health’s limited food security mandate and top down approach. Consequently civil society voice at the provincial level was marginalized. A social policy movement toward a new political paradigm—regulatory pluralism—calls for greater engagement of civil society, and for all sectors to work together toward common goals. A new, emerging policy map is proposed for analyzing the dynamics of food security and health promotion initiatives in BC.
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