Show Navigation

Resource Library

Public Health Speaks: Upstream action on food insecurity

Food insecurity affects over four million Canadians and yet is not an explicit goal of public policies in Canada. Public health practice has long been focused on supporting charitable and community food programs which, while beneficial for food access and skills development, do not address poverty as the biggest predictor of food insecurity. The NCCDH brought a small group of researchers and practitioners together to discuss inadequate income as the root cause of food insecurity, and what is needed to support a shift in public health practice towards income-based policy solutions.

This resource summarizes an October 2016 discussion facilitated by Dianne Oickle, Knowledge Translation Specialist at NCCDH, with:

  • Catherine Mah, Assistant Professor of Health Policy, Memorial University
  • Melanie Kurrein, Provincial Manager of Food Security, Provincial Health Services Authority British Columbia
  • Lyndsay Davidson, Public Health Dietitian, Chatham-Kent Public Health

Contributors discuss food insecurity as a determinant of health equity, shifting public health practice towards upstream solutions, and practical actions that public health practitioners can take to address food insecurity. Suggestions for actions to address the root causes of food insecurity are organized by the NCCDH’s Public Health Roles for Improving Health Equity.

Use this resource to:

  • Facilitate discussion about what public health interventions to address the root causes of food insecurity look like
  • Identify opportunities in day-to-day practice for action to address material deprivation as a cause of food insecurity
  • Design program and policy interventions around public health roles to act on food insecurity as a determinant of health equity


National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health. (2017). Public Health Speaks: Public health action to address food insecurity. Antigonish, NS: National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health, St. Francis Xavier University.

Tags: Food security

Sign up for our E-News