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This page provides a brief overview on food security for all audiences. For more information, follow the link to refer to the full Food Security Toolkit.
 

What is food security?

The World Health Organisation defines food security as existing when:

"All people at all times have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”

Food security is built on four pillars:

  1. Food availability: sufficient quantities of food available on a consistent basis.

  2. Food access: having sufficient resources to obtain appropriate foods for a nutritious diet.

  3. Food use: appropriate use based on knowledge of basic nutrition and care, as well as adequate water and sanitation.

  4. Food stability: stable access to foods at all times, without the risk of running out of food. 

Food security exists when there is a reliable supply and people have access to healthy foods that are culturally acceptable, nutritiously adequate, affordable and safe.  The definition is also moving towards inclusion of sustainable production methods.
 

Why improve food security?

Toi Te Ora - Public Health Service (Toi Te Ora) is committed to improving and protecting the health of the communities in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts.

Food insecurity is associated with increased food-related chronic diseases. These diseases (such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers) are affecting individuals lives and putting pressure on our health care system.

Collectively, unhealthy food and excess energy intake account for 11.4% of overall health loss in New Zealand. Toi Te Ora recognises the benefits of investing early in the lifecycle to support healthy behaviours and prevent ill-health.

Also refer to the food security research section, which shows that food insecurity is a barrier to healthy eating in our region. 
 

What determines what we eat and drink?

The diagram below describes key influences on our daily food and drink choices, including supply, demand, access and utilisation factors. It is important to consider these factors when building food security or encouraging healthy eating.

                   

How do our surroundings influence what we eat?

Our food and drink choices are shaped by the complex world in which we live —

  • By the kinds of food our parents make available at home.

  • By how far we live from the nearest supermarket or fast food restaurant.

  • By the ways that governments and authorities develop relevant policies.

In New Zealand, and many parts of the world, the ‘food environment’ — the physical and social surroundings that influence what we eat — makes it far too hard to choose healthy foods, and all too easy to choose unhealthy foods.

Some even call this food environment “toxic” because of the way it corrodes healthy lifestyles and promotes obesity.
 

Food security factsheet

The above information is available as a food security factsheet (PDF). Please refer to the factsheet for full referencing details.

 

What is Toi Te Ora doing to promote food security?

Follow the link for more information on each of the following actions:

 

How are other communities promoting food security?

Follow the link to check out food security action across New Zealand.

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