Food security is a daily problem for vulnerable groups of urban citizens in developed countries, who face physical and mental stress and poor health outcomes from limited food choices. They are often unable to change their circumstances through the marginalizing impacts of urban planning policy, regulation, and infrastructure barriers. Local government is often confronted with these impacts and absorbs the responsibility to act “on the ground” in the absence of a coordinated, multilevel institutional response. Health professionals and local government urban planners increasingly collaborate to examine the design of cities and towns to improve food security. Despite increased awareness and the inclusion of food security in some planning strategies, regulation, and decision-making, results are limited in many jurisdictions. This research uses a case study methodology to gain insights into the systemic barriers facing local government planners in the state of Victoria, Australia, in responding to municipal food security challenges. Four food-related themes drawn from the data show that both internal systemic barriers and an external lack of fit with federal and state governments blur the understanding of food security challenges and limit planning solutions. Local government planners need consistent legislative and planning scheme priorities, combined with strengthened regulatory tools, to address food security more effectively. Increased feedback opportunities for local government staff to share their valuable experience and knowledge with higher levels of government would allow for a more coordinated approach to addressing this multijurisdictional problem.
Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development / Vol. 7, No. 1