The Central Coast Local Food Security Strategy (LFSS) was created as part of the Mersey-Leven Food Hub project, supported by the Heart Foundation. Food security is the ability to have regular and reliable access to healthy food sufficient for a healthy active life. The LFSS aims to increase food security for those, who for whatever reason are experiencing food insecurity.
The Central Coast community has a high and increasing incidence of preventable chronic health conditions. Despite being an area of high agriculture production, only 46% of adults in Central Coast eat the recommended two fruits and only around 10% eat the recommended five serves of vegetables per day. Potentially, this means that almost 90% of the adult population has a less than ideal nutritional diet. The purpose of the LFSS is to guide and inform collective efforts to improve healthy eating and health outcomes in our community.
Communities have specific knowledge about local issues and needs and can contribute to addressing challenging social problems. There is no substitute for a community’s own knowledge, networks, enterprise and institutions. It is local social capital which has the ability to drive new place based and collaborative approaches to community development and service delivery, building in the development of and delivery of their own meaningful solutions.
The Central Coast Council’s Mayor, Jan Bonde, hosted and participated in a Planning Workshop for the Strategy in May 2016 attended by over 30 members of the community. This is part of the Council’s approach where we build relationships; make productive use of our networks, and work collaboratively to tackle shared issues.
A background paper was provided at the workshop, which also forms part of the Strategy. Participants were divided into three groups and workshopped ‘what’s working, what’s not working and potential projects’ around three themes identified in the Heart Foundation’s research:
- Increasing knowledge and skills in growing, preparing, purchasing and cooking food;
- Healthy eating as part of every aspect of community life; and
- Accessible, affordable, healthy food.
The unedited outputs of the workshop are also included as an attachment in the Strategy. The draft Strategy was created and circulated to attendees of the workshop for comment before being finalised.
The Strategy received endorsement by the Council on Monday, 20 June 2016. It is the first food security strategy for local government in Tasmania and can be downloaded from the Publications List on the Council’s website. The strategy as a guiding document is dynamic and flexible to allow for inclusion of new initiatives and learnings.