April 21, 2021
Food insecurity in Canada is a serious issue.
Food insecurity has been associated with poorer diet quality and a variety of physical and mental health problems. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the already stressful experience of food insecurity may be compounded further by physical and social isolation, worries about new health risks, and deepening financial insecurity.
Almost one in eight Canadians report food insecurity
Canadian food prices are among the lowest in the developed world, according to the World Economic Forum. But millions are still struggling with food insecurity, and low food prices have hit Canadian farmers hard, too.
“We already had very high levels of food insecurity in Canada” before the pandemic, said Hannah Wittman, professor of land and food systems at the University of British Columbia. “If you want to increase food security, simply focusing on food prices isn’t going to resolve it.”
About 3.8 million Canadians were food insecure before the pandemic, according to Statistics Canada. That number had risen by about four per cent, to 5.3 million, by May 2020 and is expected to continue rising as the pandemic drags on.
Women, Black people, Indigenous people, people of colour and families with children — the same groups that have borne the brunt of the pandemic — are most at risk, Wittman said.
“We need a whole system change where we improve people’s income so they can afford to pay higher food prices that actually reflect the true cost of production — including social, health and ecological externalities.”
What can you do to help?
Find a food bank in your area and make a cash donation. Food is great, but with a cash donation, food banks can manage demand and buy discounted food at higher quantities.
On April 21st, wear your most banana coloured yellow shirt and tell people why you think food security should be a priority for provincial and federal governments.
Tell your friends at school or work about National Banana Day and how some silly fun can raise awareness for one of the worlds biggest issues affecting people you know.