Activating change together for community food security
Public health’s role in building capacity to address the social determinants of health
Activating Change Together for Community Food Security (ACT for CFS) is a five-year participatory research project (2010-2015) that aims to increase community food security for all Nova Scotians. Recent efforts to understand community food security involve working in collaboration with four community groups, Shelburne Seeds (Eastern Shelburne County), Chebucto Connections and partners (Spryfield in Halifax), the Pictou County Food Security Coalition (Pictou County), and Kids Action Program and partners (in areas of Kings County). Through project activities, the alliance strives to better understand the components of community food security from a diversity of perspectives and foster capacity to achieve comprehensive policy solutions.
The ACT for CFS project team recently reconnected, shared project learning and discussed actions for next steps.
Participants were asked:
“What do we need to do now to help us realize our legacy and achieve our goals?”
One discussion focused on how public health practitioners have supported and learned from the project. Community members talked about the strength of public health involvement – including resource contributions, data, facilitation skills and expertise to the issues. Public health practitioners spoke about increased participatory understanding of communities and animation of how social determinants of health play out in peoples’ lives. Both community-based and research-based participants described public health as playing a connecting role between community and research and the multiple partnership benefits. Public health involvement was described as “a huge asset” providing credibility to the research and to voices of community members.
The Nova Scotia process of public health renewal was described as very influential and aligned with ACT for CFS work. To support continued capacity members identified ways to gather evidence on the benefits of public health involvement. Recognizing public health’s role in building community capacity to address the social determinants of health will support ACT for CFS long-term policy change goal.