Hungry for Change

The final report of the year-long Fabian Commission on Food and Poverty sets out how a fairer food system can be built that works better for people on low incomes.

Drawing on public hearings, expert testimony and the insights of people with experience of managing poverty, the Commission has uncovered a crisis of food access for many households in the UK. There are multiple cases of parents – usually mothers  – going hungry to feed their children or having to prioritise calories over nutrients to afford their weekly food shop. Many people are feeling a deep sense of anxiety from the struggle to manage serious squeezes in household budgets that arises from the cost of living rising faster than income.

… from the preface by Geoff Tansey, Chair of the Fabian Commission on Food and Poverty

We named this independent inquiry the Fabian Commission on Food and Poverty in order to broaden the debate on the connection between these two issues in the UK. People on low incomes in the UK face a new struggle to acquire sufficient quantities and adequate qualities of food. Many people are caught between the pincers of rising food prices, household bills and housing costs on one side and stagnant incomes on the other. Something has to give for these families and the only thing to squeeze is spending on food.

Recent discussion of food and poverty has been too narrow, focusing on the growth of charitable food provision, such as food banks, and the role it plays in feeding hungry people. But charitable food provision is the tip of the iceberg – the links between food and poverty extend far beyond food banks. Critically, we need to recognise that food banks and charitable food providers are not solutions to household food insecurity, they are symptoms of society’s failure to ensure everybody is sustainably well-fed.

Read more

Download the full report [pdf]

Food Access, Housing Security and Community Connections: A Case Study of Peterborough, Ontario

Tuesday, October 6, 2015, Peterborough

New Report Shows Food Insecurity a Growing Concern for Peterborough

Researchers Say Now is the Time for New Approaches

A new report entitled Food Access, Housing Security and Community Connections: A Case Study of Peterborough, Ontario was released today by Carleton and Trent University academics, in association with the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at Wilfrid Laurier Universityfood insecurity

The report concludes that the community of Peterborough is doing many things right when it comes to addressing food insecurity and housing insecurity, but that the issues are not going away and may even be getting worse. It argues that it is time for some new, cross-cutting, approaches.

“Peterborough was chosen for this study because it faces challenges when it comes to both food insecurity and housing insecurity,” said Dr. Peter Andrée of Carleton University and lead author of the report. “Despite this, Peterborough is home to a vibrant collection of community-based initiatives working to address these issues alongside City and County governments.”

The report identifies household food insecurity as a growing issue in Peterborough City and County. Food insecurity research shows that 11.5% of households in the City and County of Peterborough are food insecure, an increase from the 10% reported in 2013. In 2011, 26% of households (including 48% of rental households) in Peterborough paid at least 30% of their income on housing (Statistics Canada, 2014). Because of insufficient affordable housing and low average wages, renters earning the average Peterborough wage of $18/hour had to work longer than in any other Canadian city to cover the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment.

“When people are forced to choose between food and shelter, housing is often paid for first, leaving families hungry at the end of the month,” noted Dr. Rosana Pellizzari, Medical Officer of Health and Chair of the Peterborough Food Action Network. “Clearly, the common denominator between the issues of food access and housing insecurity is insufficient income to make ends meet”.

The report concludes that all levels of government need to take the issue of income security much more seriously. It is time to take action on Living Wage and social assistance rates, and explore the potential of a Basic Income Guarantee.

Download the report [pdf 949 KB]

For further information, please contact:

Brittany Cadence
Communications Supervisor
705-743-1000, ext. 391
bcadence@pcchu.ca

Dr. Peter Andrée
Carleton University
613-520-2600, ext. 1953
Peter.Andree@carleton.ca

 

Building a Food Strategy for Wellington and Guelph

From Phil Mount and Ashley McInnes, Co-Chairs of the Guelph-Wellington Food Round Table:

The Guelph-Wellington Food Round Table (GWFRT) and Ontario Public Interest Research Group-Guelph (OPIRG) invite you to the first in a series of events focusing on a Food Strategy for Wellington County and Guelph. Join us for this free event, to help determine our regional food policy, investment and development priorities with a diverse group of stakeholders—including public officials, community organizations, farmers, restaurateurs and engaged citizens—as we begin the process of developing a community-led Food Strategy for Wellington County and Guelph.

In a rapid-fire format, a handful of presenters will answer the challenge question “Why do we need a regional food strategy?” — including speakers from FarmStartThe Seed Community Food HubWellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public HealthTransition GuelphOntario Farmland Trust and Zócalo Organics.

Free childcare is available with registration. Refreshments will be provided. Pick up your coupon for $2 off the ticket price of the Ignatius Ecology Film Series screening of The Family Farm, January 28 or 29 at the Bookshelf!

Further events in the GWFRT Food Strategy Engagement Series — Erin (February 13) and Centre Wellington (3rd week of March)—  will include a free screening of The Family Farm.

Please visit the link below to register, to read a food strategy description, and for more information about the event. Limited space available.

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/gwfrt-engagement-series-building-a-wellington-guelph-food-strategy-tickets-15201466997

food strategy

Food Strategy Poster [pdf 367 kb]

Mapping the Food Environment project

Researchers Map City Residents’ Access to Food

(from Columbus Monthly) — Coordinated by Ohio State faculty members, students and community partners—including the Columbus Public Health Department, Franklinton Gardens, Learn4Life Columbus, Local Matters and the Mid-Ohio Foodbank—and funded by the university’s Food Innovation Center, the project combines existing secondary data with the nearly 700 survey responses to examine food security (whether people have consistent access to sufficient and safe food), production and affordability in neighborhoods in the High Street corridor with varying income levels. Read more

Visit Mapping the Food Environment website.

 

Fortnightly Feast

Farmland Forever Campaign

To celebrate their 10th Anniversary, the Ontario Farmland Trust has launched a $1 million Farmland Forever fundraising campaign. With this campaign, they will be able to nearly double the amount of farmland under agricultural protection easements. Currently more than 20 farm owners are waiting to donate easements. The Farmland Forever campaign will also give OFT more capacity to support farmland policy development and expand research and education for improved farmland protection across Ontario.
** And from now until December 31st, every donation will be matched dollar for dollar by the Metcalf Foundation!! **
In this season of giving, why not save some land for a future farmer?

Conference on Sustainable Food Choices Livestreamed

LiveWell for low-impact food (LIFE) is a project which aims to contribute to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the EU food supply chain and demonstrate what healthy, sustainable diets could look like for different European countries.
Over the last three years, LiveWell for LIFE has worked with members of the multi-sectoral Network of European Food Stakeholders – which represent key stakeholders from across the EU – to reduce the impact food consumption has on the environment.
‘On our plate today: healthy, sustainable food choices’ is LiveWell’s concluding conference. Here they’ll look at the need for a global food strategy, and the role policymakers and business leaders alike play in encouraging sustainable food consumption.
To learn more about the project, please visit livewellforlife.eu
Watch the entire conference live online.

The Fourth Annual Eastern Ontario Local Food Conference

What is local? Some describe anything within a 50 or 100-kilometre radius as local; others include anything grown in Ontario or made in Canada as local. What was clear at the conference was that foodies want what they want, and business owners can’t afford to ignore them. Buying local is not a trend that is going to disappear.
Be unique. Grow your business as big as you want. Food hubs and sharing ideas and distribution processes are great ways to leverage your growth—as the master of your own destiny you can still remain niche while becoming mainstream. Read more

Taking Stock of the Mobile Good Food Market

“Basically the jury’s still out on how to operationalize it and make it sustainable, even for a nonprofit that’s subsidized,” says Debbie Field, executive director for FoodShare Toronto, the organization that runs the Mobile Good Food Market. “I don’t think that it’s actually working for anybody who’s doing it right now.”
The biggest value of mobile markets, she says, might be in demonstrating that there is a demand for healthy food in even the poorest neighborhoods. “It’s not that low-income people aren’t interested,” Field says. “They will buy the food if we can get it there. What FoodShare is proving is that people will buy this food and what we have to do is figure out logistically how to get it into communities.” Read more

Healthy food out of reach for many

If you suspect it cost more over the past year to buy groceries and cook even basic healthy meals at home, you’re right, according to new study. The 2014 Food Cost Survey released by the Brant County Health Unit reveals that the cost of eating healthy food for a family of four is now $193.85 a week in Brantford and Brant – or $839.37 out of the monthly budget. That’s an 8% increase over last year’s figure of $179.50 per week, or $777.19 a month. “The reality is that many families in our community can’t afford basic healthy food after paying for housing and other living expenses.” Read more

La Montañita Co-op: Fresh, Fair, Local and Organic!

La Montañita, a consumer cooperative, believes in the shared benefits of healthy food, sound environmental practices and a strong local economy with results that justify the resources used.
The Co-op is a leader in the local foods movement! We support local farmers through the Food-Shed Project. This initiative helps local farmers and producers get their products into more markets. Over 1,100 local products from 400 local producers make it to small community grocers, restaurants, and commercial kitchens as a result of the Co-op Distribution Center.
We know local, but we call it community. We serve our membership, but we also collaborate with farmers, local food and environment advocates, and educators to build community awareness about the links between food, health and the environment. Read more

‘Access to healthy food is a right, not a privilege’

(from the Citizen Record)

AMHERST – Making healthy, nutritious, locally grown food available to people who can’t afford it has proved to be a positive experience. “This is the first year we got the food box program off the ground,” said Su Morin, the Ecology Action Centre’s community food coordinator. “We had just over 30 people signed up this year and we’re hoping to increase that a little bit next year.”

Morin was helping serve people during the Local Food Luncheon Saturday at the Cumberland YMCA. The luncheon was a fundraiser for the Cumberland County Cost-Share, Community Supported Agriculture, Food Box program, a pilot project started in May, which aims to connect low-income families with healthy, affordable, locally produced food. Read more

The local food movement

Setting the stage for good food

From our friends at the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems:

This publication provides a brief history of the U.S. local food movement and its link to “good food” – food that is healthy, affordable, fair, and green – within the contexts of food access and health, food justice and sovereignty, the environment, and racial equity. The publication also contains a timeline that provides a sample of important U.S. events, policies, and statistics over the past 70 years that mark the growth of local food through the lens of the four elements of good food. Download the report [pdf]…

New Working Paper Series

As frequent visitors to the site will know, the Nourishing Communities research partnership has been evolving since 2007, over the course of several projects. In response to input from our community partners, we are investigating a number of critical research issues that have emerged as potential avenues for improving the viability of community food initiatives: 1. land access for local / sustainable production; 2. innovative models of financing for community initiatives [distribution / processing / aggregation]; 3. strategies for tackling the tensions between food security and housing security; 4. opportunities to help farmers access sustainable local food markets; 5. supply management; 6. scale-appropriate regulation; and 7. institutional procurement.

Researcher Steve Piazza with corresponding authors Patricia Ballamingie and Peter Andrée have produced Food Access and Farm Income Environmental Scan, which aims to answer several questions:
What are the best strategies for tackling affordable access to local food in a way that still fairly rewards the producers of that food? How do we move beyond making local food a high-end, niche market for the rich? What are the initiatives in Eastern Ontario (or elsewhere) that do both – augment productive capacity and ensure viable incomes for farmers while also addressing access issues? Are these strategies specifically targeted at low-income groups, or based on universality (e.g. school breakfast programs)? What policies and incentives can be put in place to support these strategies at local and provincial levels? Are there policies that effectively hinder progress in this area?

Food Access and Farm Income Environmental Scan is the first in a series of working papers that will offer initial reflections on the research themes and results. These working papers will also give our community and practitioner partners and collaborators a chance to give feedback on the research, as well as some results that can be spread throughout their networks.

 

Beyond Emergency Food

Thoughts from both sides of the border

Upcoming webinar Pod-Cast:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 12-1 p.m. EST

Join Community Food Centres Canada for a webinar Pod-cast with Jessica Powers from the U.S. organization WhyHunger on the work they do to support emergency food providers to go beyond charitable food access programs and create initiatives that foster a more inclusive and sustainable food system. The webinar will cover key principles underlying this work, drivers for transforming organizations, redefining relationships with funders, inspiring examples of change, useful resources and more.

Read more

When: Wednesday December 11, 2013 from 12 to 1 p.m. EST
Where: Your Computer – Register Here! – https://cfccanada.webex.com/
How Much: Free!
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Ross Curtner at ross@cfccanada.ca.

Upcoming Webinar

Farmers’ Markets in Low-Income Communities: Strategies & Best Practices

Thursday, August 29
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Pacific / 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Eastern

Across the continent, healthy food stakeholders are working to support farmers’ markets that increase access to healthy foods in low-income communities.  This webinar will discuss how incentive programs, retail strategies and policies are changing how consumers shop at farmers’ markets in their neighborhoods. Experts will share best practices and lessons learned from the field about how to implement programs to promote the sale of healthy food at these retail outlets.

Register here.