Updated: May 23, 2020
"1 in 8 households in Canada are food insecure, amounting to over 4 million Canadians, including 1.15 million children, living in homes that struggle to put food on the table."
It is the greatest privilege to be able to have food on the table every night. To be to able go to bed without wondering how you will feed yourself and your family the next morning is unfathomable for some. Food insecurity is defined as the lack of adequate access to nutritious food due to financial constraints. According to the University of Toronto, "1 in 8 households in Canada are food insecure, amounting to over 4 million Canadians, including 1.15 million children, living in homes that struggle to put food on the table."
The issues of household food insecurity in Canada are strongly interconnected to poverty-- with marginalized communities and low-income households the most vulnerable. It is not surprising that food insecurity results in a domino effect of negative impacts upon mental, physical, and social health and wellbeing. The prevalence of anxiety disorders, depression, asthma, suicidal thoughts, diabetes, and heart disease is exacerbated across adults and children living in food-insecure households. Resultingly, as the impacts of food insecurity extend beyond diet and nutrition, a tremendous toll is felt across the healthcare system.
Food insecurity at the Ontario provincial level stands at 12%-- with the households in the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph region, at a shocking 14%. Since the COVID-19 outbreak in Guelph, students and families across the community have suffered significant losses in income resulting in increasing challenges to support the basic costs of living. When the University of Guelph first implemented its emergency COVID-19 food bank this April, 130 students registered in the first hour. The demand has been tremendous and this is a huge concern. Not only will food insecurity be heightened during COVID-19, but as always, the vulnerable and those already facing financial implications will be hit the hardest.
What can we do to help?
Tackling Canada's food insecurity problem may seem like a depressing, daunting, and impossible task. But as a community, we can take a stand and do our part-- one step at a time. It is absolutely inspiring to see the acts of kindness spreading like wildfire in this COVID-19 world. My heart feels so full to be able to witness the things that people have done (and continue to do) to bring light to those in need during these challenging times. As the student representative for the Graduate International Development Student Association (GIDSA), I am proud to be apart of the extensive initiatives the University of Guelph has taken to help those in need.
GIDSA has created a COVID-19 relief campaign to provide an extension of support to university students and faculty struggling with food security amongst the ongoing uncertainty. Specifically, every dollar that is raised will go towards the Guelph Student Food bank and the provisioning of grocery gift cards and meals to those in need.
I am so excited to announce that in less than a month, GIDSA has raised over HALF of our $1000 goal. With $1000 raised, we can assist in providing one week's worth of groceries and meals to approximately 20 individuals. If you are in a privileged situation during these COVID-19 times, please take a moment to think about how you can help those suffering silently right now.
Small individual actions can lead to monumental impacts.
If you are interested in donating please refer to this link for more details: http://uofg.convio.net/site/TR?fr_id=2339&pg=entry.
A donation of any amount to the University's Highest Priority - COVID-19 Relief fund will be a wonderful contribution towards strengthening the Guelph community's food security.