When discussing food insecurity, we often think of third-world countries and poverty-stricken areas as places where this is a common occurrence. However, there are countries that are typically viewed as well-off where this is happening right under our noses.
In fall of 2020, as many as 1 in 10 Canadians reported some level of food insecurity in the last 12 months. Let’s discuss how food insecurity affects Canadians a little more in depth:
Mental Health Impact
It goes without saying that food insecurity has a negative impact on mental health. This is a stressful way to live — not knowing where the next meal will come from can understandably cause anxiety, fear, and upset among families.
All members of the family unit are subject to this stress: parents worry about how they’ll provide for their children and children then worry about their parent’s behavior, causing the self-perpetuating cycle of anxiety to continue.
Physical Health Impact
Malnutrition is more common among food-insecure families, which makes perfect sense. Not having enough food can result in missed meals, denying people their basic nutritional needs — especially in the case of growing children.
Another way food insecurity causes health concerns is through purchasing less healthy items simply to put food on the table. Cheap food is less nutrition-rich and lacks important elements that are necessary for a healthy, balanced diet.
What Can Be Done?
While there are many resources available such as food banks, charities, and other donation-based sources, those that do utilize them report still having the need for more food, so clearly additional help is necessary.
Providing a basic level of income for all Canadians could prove helpful in resolving this issue. While many food-insecure families are already working, additional income would be a helpful first step in getting families closer to food security.
Additionally, offering classes and educational materials on food shopping within a budget and meal preparation, or providing information on lower priced grocery retailers could also prove helpful.
There are many ways that food-insecure families could be receiving more help with this problem. Understanding the impact of food insecurity on Canadians, especially children, is the first step towards resolving this issue.
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