Poverty and Food Security

The latest report on household food insecurity in Canada offers some key insight into what exactly food insecurity looks like in our communities.  I was pleased to discover that this national report paralleled exactly the findings of the work I did with the United Way on poverty and policies, which included a look at food security.  There are two key points to highlight:

1) Food insecurity is primarily about poverty, not having enough money.

2) Food insecurity in Canada more often looks like not having quality food versus not having enough food.

What we found in talking to people experiencing poverty about food was that there is actually quite a bit of food available in the community provided someone has the mobility and community knowledge to access it.  There are enough food cupboards, soup kitchens, church meals, and food banks to keep one from starvation.  However, living on this circuit of accessing free food means very poor quality.

Have a look at this table from the report:

Food Security SurveyYou will note that the primary issue is affording food, the second is the quality of food one can afford, and the third is quantity of food.  To me, this highlights that the only way to truly address food security is to address poverty, everything else is a band-aid solution.


2 thoughts on “Poverty and Food Security

  1. When we think more food banks (or more food to existing food banks) is a solution – we are on the wrong track. Helping people have access to affordable and nutritious food should be our priority along with teaching children how to budget, shop and prepare what will truly “feed” their bodies. Not only will this clear up some of the food insecurities but also a bunch of other health/dental issues that plague the poor.
    …but it is much easier to give a few cans of soup and feel like we have done our part!

  2. I agree with the writer before me, we have whole generations of people who rely on getting food from supermarkets, convenience stores and restaurants and if you are living in low income, your choices are that much more restricted.
    Currently we are working on preparing an Edmonton Vital Signs Food Security Report which will be released on October 1st. During this project my awareness has grown exponentially regarding the many agencies and individuals who are working hard to help address the issue of food insecurity in our community.
    There is much work that can be done, like growing fresh vegetables for the food bank, teaching our next generation how to prepare and store food (canning) and encouraging people to get involved in collective kitchens.

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