Increasing food security for residents

Baw Baw Shire Council in Victoria recently hosted workshops exploring the causes of food insecurity and how food relates to the workplace.

The Food Sensitive Planning and Urban Design workshops attracted 25 participants and included representatives from 12 departments of Baw Baw Shire Council, as well as representatives from Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, West Gippsland Healthcare Group, Warragul Farmer’s Market, Baw Baw Food Hub, and Baw Baw Food Movement.

Mayor of Baw Baw Shire Councillor Joe Gauci said the workshops gave participants the chance to explore the complex causes of food insecurity, and how the built environment can influence people’s ability to access affordable, healthy food.

“With more than five percent of people living in the Baw Baw Shire considered to be food insecure and 49 percent not eating the
daily recommended amounts of fruit and vegetables, the workshops gave participants the chance to explore how the built environment can influence people’s ability to access affordable, healthy food.”

“People most at risk of food insecurity include the elderly, low income households, children and people that may be isolated or living in remote outer rural areas of the Baw Baw Shire.”

In addition, the workshops explored how food relates to, and can be built into participants’ work in order to help achieve the key objective of building a local, healthy and accessible food system in the Baw Baw Public Health and Wellbeing Plan 2013-17.

“Over the past five years extensive local research has demonstrated significant evidence of food insecurity within Baw Baw, with a number of complex, interrelated causative factors.

“This led to the development of the Baw Baw Food Security Recommendations Report, and the establishment of the Baw Baw Food Security Coalition in 2012.”

The Coalition consists of three working groups, each engaging agencies and groups from different sectors to work collaboratively on improving food security at all levels, from policy through to community-led food initiatives and emergency food relief.

“The workshops were a logical next step for strategically building and progressing the work being undertaken”, said the Mayor.

Feedback from the sessions was positive, with 78 percent of feedback respondents saying they had a better understanding of how food and health relate to their work, and 78 percent also intending to apply what they had learnt to their work.