Is There Anything To Eat?

Linda Gregg CSJ

One in nine Canadians – almost 3.9 million people – don’t know where their next meal is coming from.  Food Banks Canada published in its 2014 Donor Impact Report this dire situation of over 11% Canadians facing daily hunger. Furthermore over 1/3 of these empty stomachs belong to children. 

The Canadian Feed the Children agency reported that food insecurity for Aboriginal (and adults) living on and off reserve ranges from 21% to 83%, compared to 3% to 9% for non-Aboriginal Canadians. These grim statistics point out that many Canadians are threatened by food insecurity. The meaning of the term,” food insecurity” is somewhat self-evident.  As is frequently the way in offering more formal definition, we conversely refer to food security when defining access to food availability.

Food Security exists, “when people at all times have physical, social and economic access to food, which is safe and consumed in sufficient quantity and quality to meet their dietary needs and food preferences, and is supported by an environment of adequate sanitation, health services and care, allowing for a healthy and active life.” Committee on World Food Security 2012

Food insecurity is an outcome of inadequate or uncertain access to an acceptable amount and quality of healthy food.  Food insecurity presents a growing challenge in Canada, especially in the north and remote Aboriginal Communities. In recognition of this growing concern, the Federal Minister of Health appointed a panel of experts in October 2011, to assess factors influencing food security in the Canadian North and the health implications of food insecurity for northern Aboriginal populations.

The panel of experts, Council of Canadian Academics, put forward the following initial findings concerning food insecurity:

  • It is a complex issue with significant implications for health and well-being.
  • There is no simple way to “solve” food security issues in the North. A range of holistic approaches is required.
  • Many factors enable or serve as barriers to food security.
  • There is a nutrition transition taking place in the rapidly changing North.
  • There is no one experience of food insecurity.
  • There is much solid research on hand but several knowledge gaps persist.
  • Measurement methods used to date lack the ability to respond to the complex issue
  • of food security within the northern Canadian Aboriginal context is limited,

It’s an undisputed fact that food security is an issue of well-being. The executive summary of the Council of Canadian Academics begins on a positive note encouraging all of us to turn our attention to the issue of food security. “Canada is in a position of strength to address the challenge of food insecurity. We have the tools and knowledge to build food security in the North [and in the rest of Canada] which is our collective responsibility.”   Should we not consider that our CSJ call to oneness, not only, bids us to find everyone a place at the table (inclusivity), but also, bids us to promote ample nourishment on the table (food security) for everyone.