Telling stories about experiences with food insecurity - or the experiences of friends, neighbours or family members - is a useful way to get people thinking and talking about the issue.

This was the basis of the story sharing workshops used within the Nova Scotia Food Security Projects. Examining stories closely and looking for both the problems and their underlying causes can help people to connect what they see happening in their communities with the larger issue of food insecurity. It also offers a springboard for beginning to look for possible solutions.

What do you do?

Bring a small group of people together...

Bring a small group of people together to talk about food insecurity and try this approach.You can ask participants to tell a story, bring a story of your own, use one of the quotes in this workbook, or pick one of the issues from Activity 1.2 to use as a discussion starter.

What's the problem?

Have someone tell a story about their own experience or that of someone they know.If you have time, you can ask several participants to share their stories and look for the themes that run through them all.Listen to the stories very carefully, with an open mind and open heart.Brainstorm with the group to identify the issues contributing to food insecurity and write them on a flip chart and post the sheet where everyone can see it.

Why is it happening?

Look for themes, issues and needs that run through the stories. Think about underlying factors such as policies, programs, and aspects of the social or community environment that are involved.Write these on another flip chart and hang it next to the list of issues.

What can we do about it?

Look at the issues and the causes and brainstorm ways to address them.Consider practical solutions, but also try to think big - if you could do whatever you wanted, how would you fix the problem? Here is an example of what one community did when they realized that they did not have good access to grocery stores and the food that they wanted. Not only did their idea improve access to food, it also helped develop a stronger sense of community.

The “Voices”example is a story shared at one of the story sharing workshops. The problems and solutions below were identified from this story.

One highly culturally diverse community in Toronto, Ontario recognized that there was no street level shopping amongst the 15-20 high-rise apartment buildings that they lived in.They also noted that that there was only one grocery store and it offered very little variety.The community decided to take action.

Working together, they received a grant from the City of Toronto.With this, they organized the Golden Harvest Farmers Market to sell fresh produce from Ontario farms. The Market also showcases the goods and talents of people living in the community, including a 16-piece steel drum band, henna tattoo art, homemade Afghani, Indian, and Caribbean foods, and handmade clothing.The market is a great addition to the community.As one supporter says, "You don't have to feel homesick in Flemingdon Park. You have Caribbean music, Afghani food. We are a United Nations."

Adapted from: Preventing falls together: A Population Health Tool Kit, Community Links, Dartmouth, NS, 2003.

What's the problem?

It is very difficult for Amy to get the amount and variety of food needed to support the health and well being of her and her family.

Why is it happening?

Lack of transportation.
Limited income.
Limited selection of grocery stores.
Local supermarkets are rare, now a few mega stores.
Location of grocery stores.
Lack of childcare or support for children.

What can we do about it?

Improved public transportation.
Fresh fruit and vegetable stands in communities.
Living wages.
More support for childcare and/or affordable after school and recreation programs for children.

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"Amy has no vehicle. Most of the grocery stores, or big stores are a mile away or more. So when you're walking, and you're walking with an 8-year-old... hopefully somebody's got my younger child... And you're walking way out to the Superstore. You're gonna think about what you're going to be able to carry home."