A new report from PROOF Food Insecurity Policy Research looking at three years’ worth of Canadian income data shows rates of food insecurity in Ontario aren’t slowing down.
Lead investigator Valerie Tarasuk, a professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto said: “This is a chronic problem that year after year we’ve got a very large swath of people in the province and in this country who are struggling to afford the food they need. We know that to be in a severely food insecure household is to be very, very much at risk of health problems and increased health care utilization.”
Using 2019 to 2021 data from Statistics Canada’s income survey, Tarasuk and her colleagues found the following in Ontario over those years with respect to accessing nutritious food:
- 16.1 per cent of all Ontario households were food insecure (approximately 2.3 million residents)
- Nearly half of those households had people in the workforce
- 20.6 per cent Ontario children lived in a food-insecure household (approximately 500,000 children)
- 67 per cent of Ontario households relying on Ontario Works (OW) and/or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) as the main source of income were food insecure
- 4.6 per cent of all Ontario households had severe food insecurity (missed meals, reduced food intake, days without eating due to lack of money)
What is Food Insecurity?
Food insecurity is the state in which someone has inadequate or inconsistent access to nutritional food.
People suffering from food insecurity are often poor, though not all count as “under the poverty line”. They tend to skip meals and eat foods with poor nutritional value, which is often more affordable.
Many people are under the false impression that if someone has a home and a job, they won’t encounter food insecurity. In reality, low-income families with homes can still suffer.
Many of these families live paycheck-to-paycheck and don’t have the time or money for nutritious meals. This impacts everyone in the household, including children. The impacts of food insecurity on children go beyond the feeling of hunger.
Children First Canada says, “food insecurity particularly impacts the well-being of children, and the effects can be long-lasting, if not lifelong” Effects can be in 5 far-reaching ways:
- Nutritional or Vitamin Deficiencies
- School Challenges
- Parental Stress
- Generational Poverty
What is MCASS Doing to Help?
Every day, we hear and read about the staggering rise in grocery prices and feel it when we go to the supermarket. We can’t buy what we could just a few months ago. At MCASS, we witness food insecurity first-hand. We receive calls on an almost daily basis looking for support to meet immediate food insecurity needs. Our families are disproportionately impacted. Rising prices have exacerbated previous food insecurity challenges.
Our multi-pronged food program responds to the needs in dignified, culturally-appropriate ways.
Grocery Gift Cards
We provide grocery gift cards to enable families to extend their meagre budgets to include fresh dairy, produce, and chicken or meat.
Snacks & Lunches
We provide water, juice, snacks and lunches for our Simbas soccer players and their families during our winter, spring, and summer/fall programs. On average, we provide nourishment for more than 250 children, youth, and parents each week.
Ramadan and Eid Hampers
In advance of Ramadan and to make Eid celebrations as joyous and bountiful as possible, we provide hampers of staples (flour, sugar, rice, lentils, etc.) as well as some culturally-appropriate treats (e.g., dates, rose syrup). MCASS staff, volunteers, and partners personally deliver hampers to more than 100 families for Ramadan and Eid.
At least once per week during the month of Ramadan, we deliver Iftar meals to 200 – 300 individuals all across the GTA. Families are able to enjoy tasty meals and the women are able to take a break from cooking!
Healthy Hearts, Healthy Minds
We have also founded our own Food Handling and Culinary Skills program called Healthy, Hearts, Healthy Minds to equip Muslim women of all ages.
Zakat Food Program
We have incorporated Zakat assessments as another essential component of our portfolio of programs. These assessments determine eligibility to receive food packets containing staples such as rice, flour, sugar, etc., and Halal meat and chicken on a monthly basis. We deliver packets to the homes of our eligible families just as if they were receiving a delivery from Loblaws or Sobeys.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR FOOD PROGRAMS, CONTACT OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR KAREN AT EXECDIRECTOR@MUSLIMCHILDRENSAID.COM OR 416-907-9407.
Food is much more than sustenance.
It’s a gateway to a happy and healthy daily life.
TO REGISTER FOR A ZAKAT ASSESSMENT IN YOUR OWN HOME TO DETERMINE ELIGIBILITY FOR OUR MONTHLY FOOD PROGRAM, PLEASE CONTACT OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR KAREN AT EXECDIRECTOR@MUSLIMCHILDRENSAID.COM OR 416-907-9407.