Healthy eating is tough on the poverty line

In a culture literally surrounded by food, it doesn’t seem possible that there would be so many people experiencing daily hunger pangs.

In a culture literally surrounded by food, it doesn’t seem possible that there would be so many people experiencing daily hunger pangs due to lack of access to food. In our town of Port Alberni, 18.5 per cent of families live in poverty.

An individual receiving an average welfare cheque of $610 has $21 per week, or $3 a day for food. Hence, there are far too many children who have drastically altered future opportunities, health outcomes, hopes and dreams.

Approximately 30 per cent of food bank users are children. Many kids are living with parents who are the working poor, and these children will grow up with increased risks of depression, diabetes, asthma and impaired immune function due to household food insecurity.

“Raise the rates” is a campaign across B.C. to help demonstrate the cycle of poverty and inequalities of the socio-economic gap that is widening. People of all backgrounds and income, including high profile personalities take the week-long “Welfare Food Challenge” to spotlight the government’s negligence in providing members of society this basic human right. Adequate and reasonable food should not be a gift from charities, as it is a human right set out in the United Nations Declaration (Article 25).

It’s been over eight years since the welfare rate in BC has been increased. British Columbia is the only province in Canada without a Poverty Reduction Plan. Poverty is a result of political decisions about priorities.

As a growing number of public school PAC (Parent Advisory Council) groups use bigger proportions of their bake sale proceeds and fundraising dollars to ensure their school kids have enough food (to not be hungry), instead of funding field trips, music and activity programs, it demonstrates how much the system is broken.

Food banks were originally created as temporary emergency measures in response to a food access crisis decades ago, and now headlines such as, “Temporary food bank hits 30 years of service” force society to consider this issue. Keeping the issue in the public’s eye helps to pressure leaders of the day and government to step up to end the need for food banks and charities and to provide this basic human right.

If the government increased welfare rates, this would reduce the need for society’s reliance on food banks to feed the impoverished.

The Cost of Eating Report, which is published annually by Dietitians of Canada indicates that welfare rates fall short by over half the amount of money needed for purchase of healthy, nutritious food for a basic diet.

The Welfare Food Challenge demonstrates the fact that this limited diet lacks essential nutrients, such as calcium, potassium, vitamin D, iron and vitamin E. These deficiencies will lead to anemia, osteoporosis, impaired immune system with an increased risk of developing asthma, depression, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

The lack of variety, flavour and blandness sets the vulnerable individual up for a pre-occupation with thoughts of food, trouble sleeping with hunger pangs, anxiety with worry about their next meal, plus lack of social interaction due to reduced ability to engage in daily activities with others.

There is no room in the welfare budget for clothing, haircuts, coffee, meals in restaurants or treats.

In society, there are a lot of myths surrounding poverty, but when 40.8 per cent of working individuals are earning less than $20,000/year, this is a real problem that all levels of government needs to examine and address.

“Raise the Rates” Welfare food challenge runs from Nov. 3–9 this year and for the fourth year in a row, it will help to spotlight this hunger issue.

We need to hear the dialogue and the political leaders’ plan of action to address this in a long-term systemic way.

For more info, check out:

•  http://welfarefoodchallenge.org/#jp-carousel-3082

• http://www.dietitians.ca/Dietitians-Views/Food-Security/Individual-and-Household-Food-Insecurity.aspx

• http://www.dietitians.ca/Learn/Practice-Blog/February/An-Experience-to-be-Remembered–The-Welfare-Food-C.aspx.

 

Sandra Gentleman, RD, is a registered dietitian and steward of Canal Beach.

Just Posted

Mount Arrowsmith skaters bring Beatlemania to Port Alberni

Biennial winter carnival showcases Port Alberni skaters

Portal Players Looking for love onstage in Port Alberni

Newcomers bring fun Norm Foster play to life for short run

Alberni boys win 20th consecutive Island Wrestling Championships

Alberni District Secondary School boys finished with 69 points

Juno-nominated Indigenous hip-hop duo to play in Port Alberni

Snotty Nose Rez Kids will be at the Kingsway Pub on Saturday, Feb. 23

Coldest Night of the Year event brings attention to plight of the homeless

Port Alberni teams prepare to walk one of three routes and raise funds too

VIDEO: Canada’s flag turns 54 today

The maple leaf design by George Stanley made its first appearance Feb. 15, 1965

B.C. athlete takes home gold in freestyle aerials at Canada Games

Brayden Kuroda won the event with a combined score of 121.65.

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

The can’t decide the pipeline’s fate until a new round of consultations with Indigenous communities

B.C. government provides $75,000 towards salmon study

Study looks at abundance and health of Pacific salmon in Gulf of Alaska

Murdered and missing honoured at Stolen Sisters Memorial March in B.C.

‘We come together to make change within the systems in our society’

UBC researchers develop inexpensive tool to test drinking water

The tricoder can test for biological contamination in real-time

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

B.C. communities push back against climate change damages campaign

Activists copying California case that was tossed out of court

Most Read