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Oacia Fair, M.Sc.

B.S. Environmental Studies and Sustainability, Minor in International Agriculture, Michigan State University; MSc. Renewable Resources, McGill University.

Email: oacia.fair@mail.mcgill.ca

 

 

Interests: Food security, Agriculture, Governance networks, Social networks, Global Health, Interdisciplinary approaches, Sustainable development.

 


Research Summary:

 

ASSESSING LOCAL PRODUCE PROCUREMENT CONDITIONS TO IMPROVE SCHOOL FEEDING VALUE CHAINS IN THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN ISLAND OF NEVIS

 

Abstract

The rising prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity within the Caribbean is a major public health and policy concern because obese children are at risk of developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) later in life. Unhealthy eating among children, including low intake of fruits and vegetables and high intake of energy-dense processed and ultra-processed foods have contributed to the rising prevalence of childhood obesity within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Community-based school meal programmes (SMP) have been identified as being a potentially useful vehicle to address unhealthy eating among children by increasing the availability of locally grown nutritious food items. Such “farm to school” approaches also have the potential to support agricultural production and reduce CARICOM’s reliance on importation of food, especially of processed and ultra-processed food products. The smaller islands in the Eastern Caribbean face particular challenges in dealing with childhood obesity but the island of Nevis is being viewed as a viable setting for tackling unhealthy eating among children through strengthening the existing SMP.

The objective of this thesis is to better understand the opportunities as well as barriers to enhancing community-based school feeding in Nevis. The research focused on investigating factors related to the organizational structures and social capital among stakeholders and farmers that underpin the procurement of locally-farmed produce for the SMP in Nevis. Based on field data collection involving key-informant interviews (n=66) and focus group discussions with farmers (n=12) and stakeholders (n=5), the study revealed a systemic lack of reciprocal communication between farmers and SMP administration, as well as an absence of contractual agreement between local farmers and the SMP administration for procurement of locally grown produce. As a result, SMP administrators resorted to procuring most food items from local supermarkets, and these food items comprised mainly imported and processed foods. Using social network analyses, we found limitations in group organization among farmers, and between school administrators and farmers. The results suggest the need for improved SMP governance to support and sustain local food value chains that are capable of delivering nutritious school meals for children.

 


Awards and Scholarships:

Graduate Excellence Award, McGill University (2019, 2020)

 


Publications:

Still to come.

 

 

 


 

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