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

Port Alberni receives provincial funding for food hub

Seafood processing hub will be operated by Port Alberni Port Authority

New owner ‘walking away’ from derelict Arrowview Hotel after one week

WorksafeBC issues stop work order; owner Stan Pottie says cost to continue too high

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh to campaign in Port Alberni

Singh joins Courtenay-Alberni candidate for rally to kick off final weekend before election

BC Transit to offer free bus services in Port Alberni on Election Day

Alberni Valley residents will be able to ride the bus for free on Election Day

VIDEO: First all-female spacewalk team makes history

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir did work on International Space Station’s power grid

Zantac, the over-the-counter heartburn drug, pulled in Canada, U.S.

Health Canada also investigates possible carcinogen in some ranitidine drugs

B.C. public safety minister says cannabis edibles not in stores til January

Mike Farnworth says he wants regional issues considered when it comes to licensing

Greta Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta, but doesn’t talk oilsands

Swedish teen was met with some oil and gas industry supporters who came in a truck convoy

Scheer denies spreading ‘misinformation’ in predicting unannounced Liberal taxes

Conservative leader had claimed that a potential NDP-Liberal coalition could lead to a hike in GST

Council asks to limit cruise ship visits to Victoria harbour

Mayor says motion is not meant to curtail current visits or limit local cruise industry expansion

Chilliwack man pleads guilty in crash that killed pregnant woman

Frank Tessman charged under Motor Vehicle Act for accident that killed Kelowna school teacher

Kawhi Leonard, former Toronto Raptor, welcomed back to Vancouver at pre-season game

Fans go wild at pre-season game between L.A. Clippers and Dallas Mavericks at Rogers Arena

Greens and NDP go head to head on West Coast; Scheer takes fight to Bernier

Trudeau turns focus to key ridings outside Toronto after two days in Quebec

Most Read