‘Food Community’: creating a food network in WA

Food is one of those fantastic things that we all have in common. Some of us produce it, some people sell it, we cook with it, and we all eat it. Though, some areas in our state have a harder time than others to get healthy, affordable food to all community members on a regular basis. Having adequate physical, social and financial access to safe, affordable and nutritious food (“food security”) is incredibly important for many health and social reasons.

One way to understand how we can improve food security among communities is to understand which initiatives (such as projects or programs) exist that focus on food availability, access and use. Unfortunately, we do not have a good understanding of such initiatives in WA. We don’t have a comprehensive understanding of which initiatives are operating, what they focus on or whether the current initiatives are appropriate or effectively working as a system to improve food security.

Connecting government and community food stakeholders

That’s where the exciting new Food Community project comes in! We’re conducting an Australian-first project to understand initiatives working to improve healthy food availability, access and use in the region, and all of the organisations working on these. We’ll uncover these initiatives through surveys and interviews and use a new online tool to create a map of projects – both what they are and how they all function together as a system to enhance food security. Then we’ll all get together to understand where we could work more effectively together, either through making some changes to existing projects or creating new projects together. A key element of this project is better linking government and community stakeholders, such as by creating enabling conditions for community projects to flourish.

How will we share all of these great ideas? On a purpose-built website that will be designed to showcase the latest research, professional development presentations, advocacy tools and tips, partnership and collaboration support and our community food project map.

Once we’ve completed the pilot project, we’ll then be expanding this project to all other WA regions, and hopefully, nationally.

Where’s the project currently at?

South West Food Community was launched in June 2018, in a public forum. We talked through the project process, asked participants’ advice around project branding and gained a better understanding the key projects and programs we needed to capture information on in the data collection phase. We then conducted the initial baseline mapping across the region, sharing these results and undertaking an action planning session in December 2018. Evaluation will be underway in 2019, to measure any changes as a result of the action planning.

Why does this matter?

All Australians deserve to be food secure. Together, we can work to ensure all communities within our amazing regions have access to safe, affordable and healthy food.

If you would like to find out more, or to get on board, email Stephanie Godrich on s.godrich@ecu.edu.au

Dr Stephanie Godrich is a lecturer/researcher in public health and nutrition at Edith Cowan University’s South West campus.

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