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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Fall 2020

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Department or Program Affiliation


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Bruna, Sean

Second Advisor

Yu, Yeon Jung

Third Advisor

Koetje, Todd A.


This research examines how three organizations in Whatcom County, Washington – the Whatcom Food Network working at the county level, the Birchwood Food Security Solutions Working Group working at a neighborhood level, and the Western Washington University Food Security Working Group working at an institutional level – address food insecurity and promote food sovereignty in the metropolitan setting of Bellingham, WA. I frame food security and food sovereignty as social determinants of health or upstream medicine. Utilizing Participant Action Research and ethnographic methods, I explore this question by following three themes. First, I examine the composition and intergroup work process of each organization to better understand how these structures impact the way they work. Second, I explore what policies are being promoted and utilized by each organization. Third, I seek to understand the outputs each organization is achieving with the intent to address food insecurity and sovereignty. I conclude that each group addresses food insecurity at a different social level or activity, and as such, all three types of groups are needed to address the complexity involved in achieving local food security. Additionally, I recommend that funding for consistent staffing is needed at all three levels.




food sovereignty, food security, local food policy councils, food deserts, agrarian political economy, social determinants of health, hidden hunger, urban agriculture


Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Food security--Washington (State)--Bellingham; Food sovereignty--Washington (State)--Bellingham; Agriculture--Economic aspects--Washington (State)--Bellingham; Nutrition--Requirements--Washington (State)--Bellingham

Geographic Coverage

Bellingham (Wash.)




masters theses




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