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

  • Author / Creator
    Atkey, Kayla, M.
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Centre for Health Promotion Studies
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Raine, Kim (School of Public Health)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Willows, Noreen (Department of Agricultural, Food & Nutritional Science)
    • Storey, Kate (Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Public Health)
    • Carroll, Linda (Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Public Health)