Food security strategy could benefit Tasmania’s community gardens

THE TASMANIAN GOVERNMENT has foreshadowed support for community gardens in its call for expressions of interest in membership of the proposed Tasmanian Food Security Council. In doing so, the island state potentially places itself in a national leadership role in relation to the mainland states.

The Council will be chaired by Professor David Adams with Dr Roscoe Taylor as (Deputy Chair). Two ex-officio members will represent the state government.

Council will implement social strategy

The initiative comes through a state government strategy, A Social Inclusion Strategy for Tasmania (2009), and is aimed at improving the food security of Tasmanians. The terms of reference include a definition of food security:

Food security is the ability of individuals, households and communities to acquire food that is sufficient, reliable, nutritious, safe, acceptable and sustainable.

Food insecurity happens when people go hungry, eat a poor quality diet or have to rely on emergency relief as a result of not being able to afford food.

Food security seeks to ensure the systems that produce, transport, store and supply food work effectively to enable wider and more reliable access to safe and nutritious food.

"Available evidence indicates that many Tasmanians are excluded from access to reliable and nutritious
food", claims information that accompanies the call for expression of interests in membership of the proposed Council.

Repsonsibilities of the Council will include:

  • overseeing the development of a Food Security Strategy for Tasmania that is consistent with
    the objectives of A Social Inclusion Strategy for Tasmania
  • making recommendations to the Premier about projects that can be funded through the Tasmanian Food Security Fund
  • overseeing the development of a framework to measure food security at the local level
  • developing a responsive and democratic approach to food distribution in Tasmania
  • advocating to prevent or ameliorate the causes of food insecurity.

The first point, development of a food security policy and strategy for the state, is something the Sydney Food Fairness Alliance hopes to achieve, starting with its Food Summit of late 2009. South Australia starts the process of moving towards a food policy with this February's food convergence, From Plains to Plate: the Future of Food in South Australia.

Funding to implement strategy could benefit community gardens

The Council will also recommend projects for funding through the Tasmanian Food Security Fund that build on existing healthy eating programs operating in schools and that strengthen individual, family and community capacity to prepare nutritious meals.

Funding is foreshadowed for:

  • social enterprises that provide innovative responses to food insecurity and support, that develop a sustainable and connected food distribution system and that complement traditional supply chains to improve access to nutritious, fresh, culturally appropriate and locally produced food for people who experience barriers to food security
  • community gardens, which are ineligible for funding from the Tasmanian Community Finance
    Fund or the Community Capacity Building Grants Program but consistent with aims of the Tasmanian Food Security Council.

Even though details of the proposal to assist community gardens have yet to be developed, were they to include community gardens in the general community, the proposal could make Tasmania's the only state government to offer assistance to community gardens outside of social housing estates. At present,the Victorian government assists social housing tenants starting community gardens through the community organisation, Cultivating Community. In NSW, the government assists residents of social housing through the Royal Botanic Gardens Trust's Community Greening program.

An inormation package and terms of reference can be downloaded (pdf files) from: http://www.dpac.tas.gov.au/divisions/siu/tasmania_food_security_council

Expressions of interest for Council membership close on Friday 15 January 2010.

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