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A Public Policy Advocacy Project to Promote Food Security: Exploring Stakeholders’ Experiences Open Access


Other title
Public Health, Health Promotion, Food Security, Public Policy Advocacy
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Atkey, Kayla, M.
Supervisor and department
Raine, Kim (School of Public Health)
Examining committee member and department
Carroll, Linda (Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Public Health)
Storey, Kate (Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Public Health)
Willows, Noreen (Department of Agricultural, Food & Nutritional Science)
Centre for Health Promotion Studies

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
Food security is said to exist “when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” (Food and Agricultural Organization, 2008, p. 1). In the last several decades, challenges related to the achievement of food security in Canada have had a significant impact on public health. To address such challenges, comprehensive approaches are required, which include action at the public policy level. In this study, I worked with stakeholders from Growing Food Security in Alberta’s policy working group to develop a public policy advocacy project to promote food security in Alberta. I also explored the experience of this group as it engaged in this process. This study was informed by principles of community-based participatory research (CBPR) and a focused ethnographic approach. In total, 14 stakeholders from across Alberta participated in the study. Data generation included semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and document review. Data analysis took two forms. First, I arranged data chronologically to document and describe the advocacy project. Second, I conducted a thematic analysis to explore stakeholders’ engagement experiences. Development of the advocacy project involved three phases carried out between November 2012 and July 2013: (a) an initial workshop to begin the identification of our advocacy focus; (b) monthly meetings to develop the advocacy project, and; (c) a final workshop to summarize outcomes and develop a plan for project sustainability. During this process, the group engaged in advocacy steps informed by CBPR approaches to policy advocacy, including issue identification, determining our advocacy focus, research and information gathering, developing our position, strategic analysis, and organizing for action (Themba-Nixon, 2010). The result of the advocacy project was the beginning of a campaign calling on the Alberta government to develop a Universal School Food Strategy. Through the exploration of stakeholders’ experiences, I identified four main themes. The first theme explores the research project as a positive and open space to contribute, the second theme focuses on diversity and achieving common ground, the third theme describes the group’s sense of confidence and capacity throughout the project and, finally, the fourth theme highlights the group’s experience of uncertainty. Contextual factors identified include the meeting mode, time, and meeting organization. I end the study with a critical reflection on our advocacy focus, as well as highlights and lessons learnt from the advocacy project. I also situate the exploration of stakeholders’ experiences in relation to the literature. Last, I provide recommendations for future research and action. Taken together, findings and recommendations from this study may help to inform advocacy work to promote food security in other Canadian jurisdictions.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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