Healthy Food Access Tasmania web portal launch

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A new web resource designed to help reduce food insecurity across Tasmania has been launched today.

In an Australian-first, the Healthy Food Access Tasmania web portal contains interactive local food access maps that can identify neighbourhoods in need of better access to fruit and vegetables.

“The web portal has been designed to make it easier for organisations and communities to work together to improve access to healthy food,” said Heart Foundation Project Manager, Leah Galvin.

“The website does this by creating a resource that links growers, businesses, community members and local decision-makers, such as local government.” Ms. Galvin said.

“Dietary risks and obesity are the two biggest contributors to the burden of disease. Two out of three Tasmanians are overweight or obese, and so our work is critical to reverse this trend.”

In collaboration with the University of Tasmania and Primary Health Tasmania, the Healthy Food Access Tasmania project mapped food access in local council catchment areas across the State and found shocking inequalities depending on the region in which a person lives.

For instance, out of the 353 shops that sell healthy food state-wide, only 19 are located in poorer neighbourhoods. In some localities, sourcing healthy food could cost up to $5,000 more per year than in municipalities with better healthy food access. In some regions, a household wanting to purchase exclusively healthy food would spend up to 40 percent of their income.

The online portal offers a broad range of tools and resources including community profiles, videos and infographics, urban design resources and local, regional and international case studies.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics recently released figures showing that only 11.6 per cent of Tasmanian adults consume the daily recommended daily serves of vegetables. Food insecurity affects 30 per cent of Tasmanian households and costs the healthcare system $60million per year.

The Healthy Food Access Tasmania project was initiated in 2012 in a partnership between the Heart Foundation and Primary Health Tasmania.

Primary Health Tasmania’s Manager – Collaborative Population Health Planning, Maree Gleeson, said healthy food is an important building block for good health.

“We talk about the social determinants of health - the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, play and age, which can be underlying reasons why people experience poor health,” Ms. Gleeson said.

“Being able to find, afford and access healthy food is a significant social determinant of health.

“The more partners we can bring together in the health food space the more likely we are to address the social determinants of health.

“This website provides these opportunities as it enables local connections between growers, business and local decision-makers, thereby helping reduce food insecurity in Tasmania.”

Since its inception in 2012, the project has funded a number of local initiatives around the state including Hobart City Farm.

“We’re really excited and proud to be working with the Heart Foundation to help provide healthy, affordable food options for the local community,” said Hobart City Farm’s James Da Costa.

“Projects like this represent real progress towards our goal of improving health equity,” said Heart Foundation CEO, Graeme Lynch,

“Despite Tasmania’s reputation for farming and distributing some of the nation’s finest quality produce, Tasmanians are still disproportionately affected by chronic disease. One part of the solution is to fix our local food systems by enabling local connections, and that’s exactly what this new online tool seeks to do.”

Although designed for use by Local Government, anyone can access the new portal for free at www.healthyfoodaccesstasmania.org.au or watch the introductory video. 

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Available for interview: Graeme Lynch, CEO

Media contact: Gideon Cordover, communications coordinator, 0419 710 083 or gideon.cordover@heartfoundation.org.au