Food security was deemed a human right back in 1948 and today our planet is still able to produce enough food to feed our global population and yet for a third year in a row, world hunger has increased (1). In Canada, almost 10% of our population is food insecure, meaning they do not have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs for a healthy lifestyle (2).
This news is disheartening, but the best response to bad news is to learn more about it and then, to take action.
Why Are People Food Insecure?
Why an individual or a family may be struggling to have three healthy meals a day is often a complex issue, however most variables that contribute to this reality can fit into these three overarching categories:
Personal Barriers: Even though someone may live in a wealthy community, they may not benefit from it due to their socioeconomic status, or to physical or mental barriers. For example, recent research showed that in Canada “food insecurity is three times higher among people with disabilities than the non-disabled population” (3).
Unstable or Unsupportive Environments: Globally, people often face food insecurity because the environments that they work in make it challenging to earn a living wage, which makes food unaffordable. This may be due to local violence that disrupts people’s ability to work or due to companies that underpay and overwork their employees.
Climate Change: With an increase in extreme weather due to human-caused climate change, farmers are challenged to produce the same amount of food per year while dealing with too much or too little rain, among other weather concerns. As a result, farmers are increasingly at risk for receiving less income per year and consumers may see a rise in food prices as the amount of food being produced decreases and becomes more costly.
How You Can Help
Buy from Certified B Corps: Like SPUD and Be Fresh, certified B Corp businesses are assessed by a third party organization and given points based on practices that support social and environmental sustainability. When you purchase a product or pay for a service by a B Corp company, you support a business model that balances profit with people and planet. Look out for this certification!
Look for Fair Trade Products: Fair trade certifications verify that a product has been made under safe working conditions, by workers that were paid a better wage, and that any trade between farmers and workers was under equal terms. By buying fair trade products, you are assuring that the hands that prepared your food can afford to put food on their own plates. Look out for this certification, or filter your search on SPUD.ca!
Shop Local and Organic: When you shop for food that is grown closer to home and made using sustainable practices, you support a food system that reduces our impact on our planet. In doing so, less of our dollar spent on food goes towards transportation costs and more is invested in the livelihoods of farmers working towards maintaining a healthy environment. On SPUD.ca, we list the distance your food travelled to get to our warehouse, and everything is sourced with purpose.
Support Food Aid Services: There are many great services in our local community that work towards supporting those that face food security challenges. There are many ways you can support these groups such as volunteering your time, financially supporting an organization, or donating food directly to them. At SPUD Vancouver, we partner with a few food aid services, like Quest Food Exchange in Vancouver, Bissell Centre Food Bank in Edmonton, Leftovers in Calgary, and Rainbow Kitchen on Vancouver Island, who takes our surplus food and provides it to those in need. A quick google search can get you connected to organizations in your area!
(1) “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World”. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. http://www.fao.org/state-of-food-security-nutrition/en/.
(2) “Household food insecurity in Canada statistics and graphics (2011 to 2012)”. Government of Canada. http://www.fao.org/state-of-food-security-nutrition/en/
“International Decade of Action ‘WATER FOR LIFE 2005-2015′”. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). http://www.un.org/waterforlifedecade/food_security.shtml
(3) Borowko, Whitney. “Food Insecurity Among Households with Working-Age Adults with Disabilities.” Simon Fraser University, 2006, pp. 1–118.