Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Partnership Award 2011

I wanted to share an exciting piece of news with you all!

The NS Food Security Network and the Participatory Action Research and Training Centre on Food Security won the 2011 Partnership award from the CIHR (Canadian Institutes of Health Research). (I have been co-chair of the coordinating committee of the NS Food Security Network for the last several years.) The award comes with $25,000 that will go to supporting the work of the two organizations.

Dr. Patty Williams, of Mount Saint Vincent University, and I were in Ottawa earlier this month to accept the award on behalf of the two organizations. We also met briefly with the Minister of Health.

Marla MacLeod (left) and Dr. Patricia Williams (centre) with the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq (right), Minister of Health.

And here’s some info about the organizations (From the CIHR website):

In 2000, community members and other partners concerned with sustainable food systems came together to discuss food security in Nova Scotia. The workshop resulted in a unique collaboration between the Nova Scotia Food Security Network (NSFSN) and the Participatory Action Research and Training Centre on Food Security (PARTC–FS). Together, they have challenged old assumptions and generated new strategies for improving access to healthy, affordable food.

Through the partnership, researchers, representatives from family resource centres and the Nova Scotia Nutrition Council, and people who have directly experienced food insecurity have come together to calculate the cost of a basic healthy diet in their communities and identify barriers to accessing safe, nutritious food. They have also examined the issue from the suppliers’ side, looking at the capacity of communities to produce their own food and support local farmers and fishers. The partners have used this research to create a more comprehensive definition of food security and they have developed new tools to help communities and policy makers build better food policies. Two of these tools, a workbook called Thought about Food? and a DVD entitled “Food Security: It’s Everybody’s Business”, have been distributed to policy makers and resource centres in over 800 communities across the country.

Dr. Patricia Williams, Director of PARTC–FS, and Marla MacLeod, Co-chair of the Coordinating Committee at NSFSN, say that these resource materials are designed to start discussions about food security at local, provincial and national levels. The partnership has also led to a multi-year, community-university research alliance to explore what community food security (CFS) looks like in four Nova Scotia communities and strengthen their capacity for policy change to achieve it.

“The idea is to take what we learn here [in Nova Scotia] and, in partnership with others across the country, apply and share those lessons,” says Dr. Williams.

The CIHR Partnership Award recognizes partnerships with one or more external partners from the private, voluntary or public sectors which exemplify excellence by bringing health research communities together to create innovative approaches to research questions; to develop research agendas that are responsive to the health needs, concerns and priorities of Canadians; and to accelerate the translation of knowledge for the benefit of Canadians.

Want to know more about the work of the NS Food Security Network and sign up for our e-newsletter?  Visit

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