FOOD INSECURITY

The importance of healthy food

Food insecurity is a serious public health problem in Canada because individuals’ health and wellbeing are tightly linked to their household food security status.

Healthy food is the fuel that allows us to live, work and play in our communities. No person should have to choose to go without it to prioritize other vital needs. With inflation and rising costs of living affecting all of us, those who live on or near the poverty line have been hit the hardest. Often vulnerable individuals are forced to pick whether they keep a roof over their heads and the lights on or whether they go to bed with a full stomach.

A lack of sufficient nutrients can have disastrous effects on a child’s development and impact their success in the classroom and the community. Families that struggle to put food on the table start an unfortunate pattern that begins to affect all aspects of life. Together, we must work towards a food secure community.

The Facts:

  • Over 75,000 individuals in Niagara are experiencing food insecurity.

  • 8 in 10 food insecure families have incomes above the poverty line.

  • 1 in 3 post-secondary students in Canada are food-insecure.

  • Food insecurity is associated with higher risks of both anxiety and depression.

What are we doing about it?

We know that eating healthy, culturally appropriate food, plays a significant role in our overall health and well-being. That’s why we are working to increase access to healthy food for everyone. We support programs and services that assist people in accessing and obtaining the nutritious food they need to live healthy, active lives and ultimately thrive. We invest in programs such as community kitchens, school meal programs, food distribution initiatives and community gardens.

One of our community initiatives focused on improving food security and food access is Growing Communities, which grows and distributes fresh food to community, provides educational opportunities and supports for community groups through Community Pop-Up Produce Markets. The initiative improves access to food and allows for a social connectedness for all involved. We are advocating for long-term change and working with community partners through the Niagara Food Security Network to increase access to food for people in need in Niagara.

Chad, standing in front of a food programs doors, holding a large bin of food items.

Meet Chad

“I was raised in a small village and when I moved here I needed help. That’s what makes United Way so important—I realized it was something I could depend on. I didn’t have to sit around worrying, I could get the support I needed. I realized I needed help after the pandemic had been going on for a few months. This support means I don’t have to wonder when I’m going to eat, or what I’m going to eat. I receive groceries on Wednesdays, or even a gift card so I can do my own shopping, it makes me feel more stable. That help goes a long way when you don’t have the means to do it yourself. Now I also volunteer at the program so I can pay it forward. Whether I’m working or receiving help, I feel more connected and much happier. Thank you for your support, United Way.”

Chad

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