Since 2003, the BC Healthy Living Alliance (BCHLA) has followed our mission to improve the health of British Columbians through leadership that enhances collaborative action to promote physical activity, healthy eating and living smoke-free. Collectively, BCHLA member organizations capture the attention of over 40,000 volunteers, 4,300 health and recreation professionals, and 184 local governments across British Columbia. We work with government and hold them accountable to promote wellness and prevent chronic disease.
A healthy British Columbia
To improve the health of all British Columbians through leadership and collaboration to address the risk factors and health inequities that contribute significantly to chronic disease.
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Yesterday, I was walking in a winter wonderland with a group of enthusiastic 6 and 7 year olds. Snowshoeing was the order of the day. Although suiting up was a bit chaotic, we had enough adults to get snowshoes on 19 kids in a very short time. Then we hit the trail for an hour with stops along...
On December 5th, 2013 BCHLA hosted a webinar on the ways that food security is and can be addressed in social housing. We were so pleased to have three engaging presenters who offered their perspectives on some of the current policy, research and programs on housing and food security.
BCHLA believes that good health starts at home and in the communities in which people live. Social housing is important for ensuring that some of the more vulnerable people in our communities have affordable housing. However, tenants of social housing are much more susceptible to food insecurity.
A minimum of 11% of households in BC experience food insecurity. The proportion of food insecure households in social housing is up to 7 times higher than that. This is the reason why looking at ways to increase food security in social housing presents an opportunity to address a critical health issue for a vulnerable population group.
So how can we increase access to healthy food and remove barriers for people in need? As usual there is not one single answer, but a need for different sectors and partners to open the discussion and work together to improve health.
Lianne Carley (Population Health, Vancouver Coastal Health) provided an overview of food security in social housing and presented Vancouver Coastal Health’s recently released Action Framework and Resource Guide for food security in social housing. She said that food insecurity is estimated to affect up to 70% of tenants in social housing. She also described how the research shows food insecurity has an impact on:
• physical health,
• mental health,
• child development and
• food insecurity in childhood can have an impact on health into adulthood.
Judy Walsh, the Tenant Support Worker at the Nanaimo Affordable Housing Society (NAHS) described how as a housing provider NAHS has developed successful programs to improve the food security of their residents. Their ‘Six Easy Pieces’ Cooking Class involves six people in six sessions with six different menus. Participants worked in pairs to learn simple recipes, the preparation of a full meal and leave with a container of leftovers to take home. She also described how all NAHS buildings now have tenant gardens and how the tenants have started a food buying club to share the cost of purchasing food items in bulk.
BC Housing Regional Operations Manager, Michael Kierszenblat spoke about the link between food insecurity and the tenants they house and how they have provided skills and resources to BC Housing tenants through the People, Plants and Homes and other Community Development programs. As well as partnerships with NGOs to run community kitchens and community gardens, he also described a popular mobile produce market. The markets are held just prior to cheque day, when tenant finances are stretched thin. To make these markets more accessible, wooden market tokens are pre-sold to tenants, usually just after income assistance cheque day.
We were delighted that the 90+ participants of the webinar were so engaged – which was obvious from the stream of questions that followed each presenter, requests for presentations and an announcement about a Food Security Conference planned for March 2014. We look forward to further discussion and action about how we can work together to end hunger in our communities!
BCHLA Blog Posts
December 12, 2013
December 05, 2013
October 28, 2013
October 17, 2013
October 08, 2013
September 26, 2013
September 23, 2013
September 19, 2013
June 27, 2013
June 20, 2013