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There has been a long history of food security work in Nova Scotia. What do we mean by food security? There are many definitions on food security. The NS Food Security Network (http://www.nsfoodsecurity.org) and Steering Committee describes food security as a situation that exists when:
"all people, at all time, have access to sufficient, nutritious, safe, personally acceptable and culturally appropriate foods that are produced, procured and distributed in ways that are environmentally sound, socially just and sustainable"
Many groups have been working on this issue for many years. The Nova Scotia Food Security Network and Steering Committee has resulted from the work of several groups. It is a network of individuals and organizations that have expressed interest in working to build food security in Nova Scotia.
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Food Security has been defined as the ability of all people, at all times, to have access to nutritious, safe, personally acceptable and culturally appropriate foods that are produced (and distributed) in ways that are environmentally sounds and socially just. Recent data suggests that 14.6% Nova Scotians experienced food insecurity (the opposite of food security) at some point in 2004, above the national average of 9.2% and the highest of all the Canadian provinces. Work being done around food security issues in Nova Scotia aims to address the root causes of why people experience food insecurity. Unless people have access to healthy food, strategies aimed at encouraging them to eat more fruit and vegetables, breastfeed their infants and help their children develop healthy food habits can have only a very limited impact.
What is being done in NS?
There is a large network of people from a variety of different sectors such as agriculture, environment, social justice and health that are working toward improving food security in Nova Scotia. In working to achieve the goal of food security for all Nova Scotians, the Nova Scotia Food Security Network (NSFSN) is focusing on:
1. Increasing the proportion of Nova Scotians who have access to nutritious foods
2. Increasing the availability of safe, locally produced, nutritious foods and to support sustainable food systems in the province.
The NSFSN and the NSFSN Steering Committee grew out of the work of the Nova Scotia Participatory Food Security Projects, which conducted a series of nine research projects between 2000 and 2006. Notable accomplishments of these projects include the development of resources and community tools including Thought About Food?: A Workbook on Food Security and Influencing Policy and the complementary DVD -Food Security - Everyone's Business. To support food costing initiatives in Nova Scotia, the projects developed What does it cost to eat health in your community? A training guide to participatory food costing. The Nova Scotia Participatory Food Security Projects have now completed three rounds of food costing in the province: in 2002-2003, 2004-2005 and 2007. To support policy makers in understanding the issue of food security and developing policies that support food security, the projects developed Understanding the Relationship Between Public Policy and Food Security in Nova Scotia: A Background Paper and Policy Lens. This lens can be used in conjunction with other policy lenses to ensure that the food security of Nova Scotians is not negatively impacted by policy change, and that food security is a consideration in all types of public policy.
Currently the Nova Scotia Food Security Network Steering Committee is overseeing the work of four projects on behalf of the Network. These projects align under four steps which are adapted from Health Eating Nova Scotia's Next Steps for food security. These steps are:
- Taking steps to begin to establish a provincial system for monitoring food insecurity.
- Policy change.
- Increasing awareness of the extent/reality of food insecurity.
- Fostering the development of an accessible, affordable, sustainable just food production/distribution/consumption system.
 Adapted from Fairholm 1996;  Canadian Community Health Survey, Cycle 2.2