Food security: mapping the environmental determinants for urban planning and infrastructure development.
Food security, access to appropriate, nutritious food on a regular and reliable basis, using socially and culturally acceptable means to acquire it, is a human right. There are groups in the Australian community who are food insecure, including low income families with children, the elderly, and other marginalised and disadvantaged groups. However, low income does not equate to food insecurity and urban infrastructure can ameliorate or exacerbate food access issues. This paper describes environmental aspects of urban food access in Wollongong NSW, using GIS software. It presents layered data on food outlets by type, food aid distributors, sociodemographic profiles (including SEIFA indices and other ABS data), transport routes, and aspects of the social and built environments. Through the use of mapping, clear differences within similar sociodemographic areas were identified that challenge simplistic interpretations linking food security and socioeconomic data. The visual demonstration of infrastructural aspects of the environment can be used to advocate to local government for consideration of infrastructure and planning impacts on food access and health. Mapping also can provide information to local food aid providers in planning for the appropriate distribution of food aid and as an advocacy tool through comparison with other Australian data. In addition, this project has acted as an important focal point for collaborative partnerships between the university and other agencies, including South Eastern Sydney Illawarra Health (NSW Health), NGOs, and the private sector, to develop sustainable action to promote health.