New web portal puts healthy food at the heart of the matter

A NEW web resource designed to help reduce food insecurity across Tasmania has been launched by the Heart Foundation and Primary Health Tasmania.

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,” she 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.

The resource found that in some areas, sourcing healthy food could cost up to $5,000 more per year than in municipalities with better food access.

In some regions, a household wanting to purchase exclusively healthy food would spend up to 40 per cent of its income.

Heart Foundation chief executive officer Graeme Lynch said despite Tasmania’s reputation for farming and distributing some of the nation’s finest quality produce, Tasmanians were 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,” he said.

Since its inception in 2012, the Healthy Food Access Tasmania 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.

Although designed for use by local government, anyone can access the new portal for free at www.healthyfoodaccesstasmania.org.au

Caption: Heart Foundation chief executive officer Graeme Lynch using a tablet the access the Healthy Food Access Tasmania web portal.

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