Healthier You Northern Health winter2016 web

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Food Secure kids Connecting students with the foods they eat. Why is supporting community grants important to you?


Barbara Hennessy (Regional Manager, Cardiac & Stroke Care, Northern Health) & Ciro Panessa (Regional Director, Chronic Diseases Program, Northern Health) • My programs partner on / fund: IMAGINE Community Grants, HIV/HCV community contracts ( A fundamental aim of any health system is to prevent disease and reduce ill health so that people remain as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Northern British Columbians have higher rates of chronic diseases than their southern counterparts. The leading causes of chronic disease burden in the north are: cancer (18%), cardiovascular disease (17%), mental disorders (7%), and chronic respiratory diseases (7%). Many premature deaths which result from cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, and other chronic diseases could be prevented by better addressing risk factors such as high blood pressure, tobacco smoking, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and the harmful use of alcohol. Also, tackling modifiable inequities builds resiliency and reduces illness and the risk of premature death, with the potential for large health gains for northern B.C. Supporting the IMAGINE grants allows Cardiac Care and the Regional Chronic Diseases Program to engage and collaborate with local communities in supporting grassroots initiatives that will bring public awareness and focus on building resiliency and reducing risk factors.


Karen Mason-Bennett, Program Coordinator Northern Environmental Action Team


icture the expression on the face of a student who just harvested their first homegrown veggies from a garden.

Do you imagine the shock that everything they learned about actually worked? And amazement that a tiny seed grew this big, bright, orange carrot? And, most of all, do you see wonder as they realize that it tastes better than anything they get from the store, despite the dirt? For many of us, these were fundamental moments that occurred at home with our parents or grandparents. For many young people today, however, the focus on food is fading fast.

Thankfully, the buzz around food security has been increasing. For anyone who lives in a northern community, this is good news as voices warning of the weaknesses in our food system have fallen largely on deaf ears over the years. Food security, simply put, is the ability to access affordable food within your community. Someone can be equally food insecure if they cannot afford food or if they live in a remote area and have difficulties reaching a store. Many people relate food insecurity to poverty and this is often a strong factor, but the further north you travel, the more complex the story becomes. continued on next page

12 Healthier You

winter 2016