No "magic bullet" is going to reverse the decline in Canada's food security. Effective action requires that we address multiple factors, including food supply, food access, and policy change at multiple levels. A recent national survey of food security projects, however, suggests that the social economy may be key to success.
In 2007-08, Atlantic Canada's Social Economy and Sustainability Research Network partnered with the National Hub of the Canadian Social Economy Research Partnerships (CSERP) to discover two things. How are projects making the move from short-term to medium- and long-term solutions to food security? What does their work reveal about the redesign of our food system, and policies to support that redesign?
Of the 25 projects studied, some use short-term strategies of emergency relief. Some focus on the medium term with strategies to build capacity. Still others strive for long-term, sustainable community food security. Many projects, like the Kids Action Program in Nova Scotia, blend the three stages of this continuum. They work on emergency food needs and capacity-building, as well as long-term advocacy or policy change.
Need these initiatives "scale up" to have greater impact? A wiser course of action would be to preserve local autonomy by enabling these innovations to network and multiply. For this the principal tools are advocacy, consumer education, and research and analysis on which to base supportive agricultural, health, social, industrial, and food policies.