The Power of Participation: How Can Community Partners Sustain the Halifax Mobile Food Market?
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Mobile Food Markets (MFMs) are innovative interventions which can support healthy eating within lower-income communities. MFMs enhance food security by increasing access to healthy food by alleviating travel costs in areas where nutritious and culturally-relevant food options may be limited or challenging to physically or financially access. One such MFM operates within Halifax, Nova Scotia. This market began as a 21-week pilot project as a means to support a healthy and sustainable food movement in Halifax. Pilot evaluation data suggested that community partnerships played a critical role in sustaining the MFM, but little was known about how such partnerships function in this context. The purpose of this project was to explore how the positive outcomes of the MFM could be sustained through effective participation in partnerships. A feminist poststructural approach, which seeks to understand relations of power, was applied to explore how partnerships function in support of the MFM. This approach facilitated greater understanding of the significance of power relations within MFM partnerships. Findings suggest that mutual benefit, relation to MFM purpose, capacity of the partner, and being able to see the results of their work are important for the sustainability of partnership relations. It was also found that the sustainability of relationships with communities depended upon fostering community involvement and building trusting relationships. Funding relationships were also identified as necessary for the MFM to operate. The results of this research may be used to inform strategies to develop and sustain effective partnerships within the MFM in Halifax.