Healthy Eating and Food Security Policies

Affordable, healthy, local and culturally acceptable food makes a difference to our individual health, the resilience of our community and the integrity of our environment.

Evidence shows vegetables and fruit have a protective effect against the development of chronic disease and that even a one-serving-per-day increase is linked to a 20% reduction in all causes of mortality.

In BC, as in other provinces, there are pronounced differences in healthy eating which are linked to the social and economic determinants of health.

Accessing healthy, affordable food can pose a significant challenge to those on low or fixed incomes and even more challenging to remote, rural and Northern residents, many of whom are First Nations.

A mixture of planning and zoning measures along with other initiatives should be explored to ensure all communities have easy access to healthy foods while limiting the proliferation of energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods.

BCAHL recommends the following policy options:

  • The provincial government to continue to coordinate actions to improve access to healthy food and food skills in rural and remote communities.
    • Continue to move forward on the recommendations made by the Produce Availability Initiative task force.
  • Adjust Income Assistance support rates to account for the actual cost of fresh and healthy food.
  • Make grant funding available for remote and rural communities to address food access challenges, support local innovation and food sovereignty for Indigenous communities.
  • Explore new retail opportunities such as mobile produce markets, which are designed to bring fresh fruit and vegetables to remote communities that may face barriers to accessing healthy foods.
  • Discourage unhealthy choices by applying provincial excise taxes to food and drinks high in sugar, salt and fat that have minimal nutritional value.
  • Increase information on options by requiring nutritional labelling on the menus of large-scale restaurant chains.
  • The provincial government work with the federal government to limit the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children.
  • Recognize First Nations interests with respect to stewardship and access to lands and waters from which traditional diets are sustained.
  • Ensure all lands with the highest capability of agricultural production are captured within the Agricultural Land Reserve and are used for what they were intended.
  • Provide incentives to encourage local agricultural production and marketing (e.g. family farms, community gardens, farmers markets, BuyBC program) and apply disincentives for those using agricultural land for residential use only.
  • Provide resources and capacity building opportunities that assist First Nations to farm available farmland on reserve.
  • Review agricultural policies with input from small scale producers to ensure that policies promote local food production and direct purchasing from consumers.
  • Review provincial legislation that limits the use of traditional foods in First Nations daycares, schools and elders facilities.