Our food system has been one of many systems exposed during this pandemic and although we are challenged by meeting the immediate needs we are also presented with a significant opportunity to re-imagine the future that will nurture the health of papatūānuku and our wellbeing.
 
A national movement for change has already started. Healthy Families NZ has been working together through the Kai Community of Practice (Kai COP) to amplify local work to improve the kai and food systems in our communities. The Kai COP is focusing on how we can contribute to the move towards food security and food sovereignty in Aoteaora New Zealand. When we work towards food security and sovereignty we enable stronger, healthier and more resilient communities.

This also aligns to the recent ‘Food Secure Communities’ framework and investment released by the Ministry of Social Development and the ‘Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures’ investment by Ministry for Primary Industries that supports problem solving and innovation which could make a positive and lasting difference to New Zealand’s food sector.

Our communities have told us the important role food plays in their lives and to their wellbeing. The strong themes that have come out of our community and stakeholder engagement regarding our food system, as well as learnings through Covid-19 include:

  • Time: Our available time to shop, prepare and share food can determine our food options. Many things influence our available time, some are actual and others may be perceived.
  • Resource: The personal and whānau resources we have, as well as those in our geographic and social communities influence our food experiences.
  • Mātauranga: The intrinsic understanding of what nourishes us and practical knowledge and ability to access the food that contributes to that nourishment impact wellbeing.
  • Access: Time, resource and our geographic and social communities impact our ability to access the food that is appropriate, affordable and nourishing for whānau.
  • Kotahitanga: Food brings people together and is central to the experiences of whānau and community. Building on existing strengths and beliefs around food can contribute to wellbeing.

If we address these foundations we will further impact the key themes of FeelingsSecurity and Resilience and will lead us to achieve Food Security and Food Sovereignty for all.

Our Healthy Families Hutt Valley Strategic Leadership Group and our team have been reflecting on what our leadership role is in this change. Grounded in the community and stakeholder insights and learnings, what are our levers and how might we move from food dependency to food resilience?