The Food Action Research Centre, or FoodARC, is a research centre at Mount Saint Vincent University committed to research and action to build food security, food sovereignty, and food justice in Nova Scotia and beyond. Our work is grounded in the four pillars of research, building capacity, sharing knowledge, and advocacy and policy change. We co-create knowledge using holistic frameworks, and then we translate this knowledge into tools to inspire and support social and policy changes.

Our research incorporates: ecological systems to understand the human condition as it relates to the physical environment; political economy to examine the existing structures and how they came to be and how they can be changed as they relate to food security; and “ways of knowing” frameworks which values expert-drive, experience-driven, and critical knowledge. At FoodARC, we believe participatory action research (PAR) has enormous potential to contribute to policy change for food security. The knowledge generated from PAR activities is translated into tools and mobilized to build capacity for policy change. Policy change is essential for producing the conditions required for food security. Co-created knowledge on structural factors affecting food security is used to advocate for policy change. Through this approach, FoodARC creates community-driven evidence-based policy change for food security.


We are driven by the belief that inclusion, collaboration, and community mobilization and an understanding that engaging those affected by food security in research and advocacy is needed for real change to occur. Our principles are embedded through all of our projects and activities:

  • Vital: Food is fundamental to sustaining human life and critical to all life stages.
  • Participatory: Research involves those affected by food insecurity and engages communities in collective action.
  • Innovative: Recognizing there are no simple solutions, real innovation will take all of us – individuals, organizations, government, and all sectors of society – and a diversity of perspectives to bring about long-term, holistic change.
  • Equitable: Restoring balance, sustainability and social justice.

Mount Saint Vincent University

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Associated with the Department of Applied Human Nutrition, FoodARC embodies Mount Saint Vincent University’s commitment to social responsibility, the advancement of women and preparing students for global citizenship.

FoodARC continues the strong tradition of the Mount by working collaboratively with those affected by food insecurity to enhance the welfare of individuals and communities.

In addition, the participatory action research and ways of knowing approaches offer students hands-on opportunities to enhance both technical skills and gain experience in working with communities for social change and improved health at many levels.