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Poverty’s role in food insecurity a year round issue

Dec 06, 2017
SIMCOE MUSKOKA – The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit wants to rally the public to raise awareness about hunger being a year-round issue in our communities; not just something that happens around the holidays.

SIMCOE MUSKOKA – The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit wants to rally the public to raise awareness about hunger being a year-round issue in our communities; not just something that happens around the holidays.

“No money for food is Cent$less”, a campaign raising awareness about the impact of low income on access to healthy food, has been running throughout this year. “Hunger is a serious public health concern, and poverty is at the root of hunger: It’s a simple fact that often gets overlooked in the daily work of government,” said Jane Shrestha, public health nutritionist at the health unit. “We want to raise the volume on this issue.”

The health unit’s 2017 Nutritious Food Basket survey, which measures the cost of healthy foods plus rent against minimum wage and social assistance income, showed that these income sources fall short of what is needed to put healthy food on the table and pay for other basics.

Food insecurity contributes to poor physical and mental health for children, teens and adults, and leads to more illness including chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

With holiday food drives beginning to ask for donations, the public becomes more aware of the issue of hunger. It’s a good time to think about the deeper problems involved, Shrestha says.

“A food bank helps with urgent food needs but when the food is gone the underlying problem — no money for food — is still there and hunger is a year-round problem for many,” she said. Only government can create policies that address the long-term issues of income and food. No money for food is Cent$less.” And Shrestha’s advice to everyone is “When you donate; advocate.”

Members of the public are invited to visit www.smdhu.org/centsless on the health unit website for more information, ideas and resources they can use to advocate for long-term income policy solutions to food insecurity, including a printable postcard to send to Premier Kathleen Wynne. Campaign posters and postcards can also be found in many locations such as health unit offices, recreation centres, libraries and churches across Simcoe Muskoka, as well as in some food banks.

For more information please call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or toll free: 1-877-721-7520.

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