"FOODSECURITY.at" is a network composed of four Austrian institutions working in the whole field of Food Security.
In 1996, the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) defined Food Security as existing, "when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life".
As such, food security and the associated availability of high quality and safe food as well as the impacts of climate change, the preservation of biodiversity and resource efficiency is a fundamental challenge of the 21st century.
Food security relates to adequate supply of and access to food, food safety, food precaution, nutrition and consumption behaviour. The access to food must be possible physically and financially while also proper nutrition and food habits must be taken into account.
According to the FAO, four main dimensions of food security can be identified:
- Availability of food in sufficient quantity: Food availability addresses the "supply side" of food security and is determined by the level of food production, stock levels and net trade.
- Economic and physical access to food: An adequate supply of food at the national or international level does not in itself guarantee household level food security. Incomes, expenditures, markets and prices influence food security objectives.
- Food utilization: Utilization is commonly understood as the way the body makes the most of various nutrients in the food. Sufficient energy and nutrient intake by individuals is the result of good care and feeding practices, food preparation, diversity of the diet and intra-household distribution of food. Combined with good biological utilization of food consumed, this determines the nutritional status of individuals.
- Stability: Availability of, access to and adequate use of food must be safeguarded continuously. Adverse weather conditions, political instability and economic factors may have an impact on the food security status.