In­put call for fresh food ac­cess study

Harvey-Waroona Reporter - - NEWS - Therese Col­man

A WA-first study to iden­tify healthy food in the re­gion is seek­ing in­volve­ment from com­mu­nity and lo­cal gov­ern­ment groups.

The South West Food Com­mu­nity study was de­vel­oped by Edith Cowan Univer­sity South West to map the avail­abil­ity, ac­cess and use of healthy food in the re­gion.

ECU School of Med­i­cal and Health Sciences lec­turer, nu­tri­tion­ist and project co­or­di­na­tor Dr Stephanie Go­drich said the study would iden­tify how projects such as com­mu­nity gar­dens, food-swap­ping groups, lo­cal gov­ern­ment and com­mu­nity ini­tia­tives and ed­u­ca­tion worked to­gether as a sys­tem.

“The study will help peo­ple gain ac­cess to healthy, af­ford­able food from Har­vey and Bun­bury, across the Capes and down to Manjimup and Pem­ber­ton,” she said.

The project was ini­ti­ated af­ter Dr Go­drich com­pleted her PhD in food se­cu­rity across WA.

“While I had un­cov­ered the de­ter­mi­nants of food se­cu­rity, for ex­am­ple healthy food avail­abil­ity, ad­e­quate trans­port, cook­ing skills, as well as the pro­por­tion of WA chil­dren who were clas­si­fied as food-in­se­cure, in­clud­ing in the South West, we still didn’t know enough about which projects were op­er­at­ing to ad­dress the is­sues we un­cov­ered,” she said.

“Pre­vi­ous re­search found part­ner­ships be­tween ser­vice providers were of­ten lack­ing but we didn’t have a thor­ough un­der­stand­ing of who was work­ing with whom to im­prove food se­cu­rity.”

ECU staff and re­searchers are presently in­ter­view­ing project lead­ers across food pro­duc­tion, nutri­tion, com­mu­nity and so­cial work.

“A com­pre­hen­sive map­ping of these lo­cal ini­tia­tives is un­der way, which in­volves par­tic­i­pat­ing in an in­ter­view or fo­cus group,” Dr Go­drich said.

“How­ever, the or­gan­is­ing team are aware they have only cap­tured a small num­ber of the ini­tia­tives that ex­ist in the re­gion, par­tic­u­larly gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tives.”

A dig­i­tal book show­cas­ing lo­cal food se­cu­rity “change-mak­ers” and a South West Food Com­mu­nity web­site are be­ing de­vel­oped as part of the study.

Any­one with a link to food ini­tia­tives in the re­gion is en­cour­aged to get in­volved with the project and par­tic­i­pants are in­vited to a stake­holder work­shop in Novem­ber to re­view the map­ping and re­sults of the study.

PIc­ture: Therese Col­man

South West Food Com­mu­nity project co­or­di­na­tor Dr Stephanie Go­drich is re­search­ing healthy food ac­cess and avail­abil­ity in the South West.

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