With 13% of B.C. households 'food insecure,' new non-profit aims to halve national levels
Industry-funded action centre launches to push for access to healthy, dignified food for all.
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More than one in eight British Columbian households are considered “food insecure” — but according to a new survey, five-in-eight of them don’t actually know what that means.
Food security means having “stable access to affordable, nutritious and culturally appropriate food,” according to the Maple Leaf Centre for Action on Food Security, a new non-profit launched on Tuesday thanks to a $10-million donation from the food packaging giant.
“In a country of such wealth and abundance, it is a national shame that one out of every six children and four million people in Canada face food insecurity,” said Michael McCain, president of Maple Leaf Foods, in a press release. “The Centre is the culmination of several years of stakeholder engagement to understand this complex issue and where Maple Leaf should direct our resources — people, products and financial — to make the greatest difference.”
In the Lower Mainland, the national centre is working with the Greater Vancouver Food Bank’s efforts to create what it calls “community food hubs” — membership-based organizations that aim to empower and educate their users, recognizing that more traditional charity approaches are “not a long-term solution to hunger.”
Two of its 13 food banks in the region have already transitioned to the model, and it plans to fully implement the approach in all of its facilities by 2019.
But despite high numbers of “food insecure” families, a poll of 1,500 Canadians that Maple Leaf commissioned found that 63 per cent of respondents in Western Canada, west of Manitoba, did not know what food security is, higher than the national average.
But the cause of food insecurity, according to a Centre statement, isn’t a shortage of food. Those impacted by insecurity tend to be low-income or marginalized.
“Canada does not have a food shortage problem, but we do have a poverty problem and a food distribution problem,” the statement read. “Food insecurity is associated with a higher prevalence of chronic diseases, higher health care costs, mental health impacts, increased isolation, and lower academic performance.”