Dr. Patricia (Patty) Williams is a Professor in the Department of Applied Human Nutrition at Mount Saint Vincent University, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she served as a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Food Security and Policy Change from 2007-2017. Dr. Williams has a background in foods and nutrition, working for several years as a dietitian in pediatric and maternity settings before completing a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of British Columbia, and a CIHR-funded postdoctoral fellowship at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is one of the founders of the Canadian Association of Food Studies and Food Secure Canada, as well as the former Nova Scotia Food Security Network and Nova Scotia Food Policy Council. Dr. Williams is the founder and Director of FoodARC – the Food Action Research Centre, and has worked for nearly two decades to create the conditions to address food inequities, in Nova Scotia, across Canada and beyond. Guided by participatory leadership, participatory action research, and mixed methods approaches, Dr. Williams has led several ground breaking national and provincial studies on food-related policy change, including seven provincial cycles of a unique model of Participatory Food Costing, and the first comprehensive provincial wide studies of Community Food Security and the Consumer Food Environment in Nova Scotia. Grounded in long standing partnerships that span communities, universities and governments, and local, regional and national scales -- where the voices of those experiencing food insecurity are at the center, FoodARC received the prestigious CIHR Partnership Award in 2011.
Dr. Williams' current work focuses the experiences of stigma, shame, and social exclusion, particularly for women, living in poverty and struggling with food insecurity, and using innovative tools such as FoodARC’s ‘The Hand You are Dealt’ board game to shift thinking about food insecurity. Dr. Williams’ current work also focuses on co-learning with marginalized communities to understand and address food insecurity, as well as to reclaim health and traditional food systems through food sovereignty. Dr. Williams’ community-based research helps to bring those most affected by challenges within food systems into the forefront of addressing them through changes on all levels, from how we think and act, to how we are governed. In 2019, Dr. Williams received the Canadian Association of Food Studies Award for Excellence in Public Service.