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Food insecurity in Canada

Food insecurity in Canada

Old Oct 17th 2020, 6:35 am
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Default Food insecurity in Canada

When I first moved to Canada I was surprised there was no food stamp like program and the poor had to rely on charity from food banks which can vary greatly around the country, big city's tend to have better resources, a small town may only have a food bank who is open once per month.

It's one spot where the US tends to do better, having a food stamp program so people can obtain food and not just obtain it but get to choose what they would like to eat and fits their health and preferences, there were times I went to a food bank, and 90% was sugar laden and carb heavy, and they didn't have diabetic bags, you got what you got, but sugar laden and carb heavy food can be bad for diabetics, just one example.

COVID has made food insecurity worse as people lose income and grocery prices in some parts of the country are increasing, and sales less common.

We have had times where we didn't know if the food we had would last until the next pay check, and back in 2012/2013, I was eating basically once a day, I had to live on $2 per day at that time ,and it's no easy task eating and covering your transit costs on $2 per day...Luckily most bus drivers would let me ride free to /from job interviews when I asked and explained the situation, but I always did risk a large fine if transit police did a fare check.

Often food is 2nd or 3rd down the list for low income folks, housing is always first, followed by electricity, and food at 3 sometimes 4 if you have prescriptions that are not covered, or live in a province with poor prescription coverage.

https://nationalpost.com/news/canada...-hunger-report

Before the pandemic an estimated 4.5 million Canadians experienced food insecurity. During COVID-19, that number has increased by 39 per cent; disproportionately affecting Black, Indigenous and northern communities. As a result of the strains of the pandemic, one in seven people — including Moore — is food insecure; unable to afford enough food, or worried about running out without the means to buy more.
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Old Oct 17th 2020, 3:04 pm
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Default Re: Food insecurity in Canada

I realize it is not the same as food insecurity, but I did 9 months of semi starvation when I went 'on the one meal' a day diet. It certainly got me thinking about how fortunate we are here in the developed world. I'm not sure of the stats, bit I cannot image anyone does from starvation in Canada. People always seem to get food, albeit cheap processed crap.

Yemen is going to be the worst humanitarian crisis the world has ever seen if people don't help. The world needs to help.
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Old Oct 17th 2020, 6:15 pm
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Default Re: Food insecurity in Canada

Originally Posted by Danny B View Post

Yemen is going to be the worst humanitarian crisis the world has ever seen if people don't help. The world needs to help.
Yes, I am so in agreement. These people didn't ask for the situation they find themselves in an corrupt government and violent factions have put them in a no hope situation. They can't make choices.
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Old Oct 17th 2020, 6:38 pm
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Default Re: Food insecurity in Canada

Back on topic...there is food insecurity, quite evidently in Canada, particularly at the two ends of the scale, children going to school hungry and elderly people not eating as they prioritize something else first. That isn't just a Canadian phenomenon though, the US and Europe are equally stuck. There isn't, and never will be a quick fix, but the food banks are doing a tremendous job at trying.

Lenin said that 'society is only three meals away from chaos', but more recently it seems that 'Civilization is nine meals away from anarchy'.

It isn't that people don't care, lots of us do and we volunteer to try to make it better, we vote democratically for people that we hope may make it better, but we have too many people, too few resources and trying to make it through to the next day seems to be more and more taxing.
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Old Oct 17th 2020, 7:25 pm
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Default Re: Food insecurity in Canada

This message has been deleted by Jsmth321. Reason: its clear people in general don't care about the issues in Canada and don't care to try to fix them.
I care about issues in Canada, but in comparison to what is happening in other parts of the world, we have it OK here. My in-laws in the Philippines couldn't believe the CDN government was giving out a $2k a month CERB payment.

If people really want to start helping to reduce food shortages and climate change, they can start by only having one child and only eating meat twice a week. We have way too many people on this planet.
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Old Oct 17th 2020, 9:51 pm
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Default Re: Food insecurity in Canada

I've always thought of food stamps as the lowest of the low. Almost like they come into play where other social programs have failed.

I know social assistance rates are very low. We lived at the social assistance level for a couple of years (with the added insecurity of expected income being late or not materialising) and then between $300 and $600 a month lower when the stepkids were too old to qualify for child benefits but were still at school.

It was tough but with judicious determination to get the best grocery deals, stock up on good prices, cook large amounts and freeze some meals etc and admittedly aided by the knowledge that things would be much better in a couple of years - which I'm sure makes a big difference but still meant we had the experience - we managed to put good food on the table. I remember my stepdaughter had some nutrition thing go on where the students in her class were to provide information on the meals eaten at home and her fresh fruit and veg consumption was higher than most.

J's point about being in a city is probably valid as we had the opportunity for getting good deals among several different stores with few transport issues and never even thinking about a food bank. Living in a one-store town would have been a lot more difficult.

Dammit, I forgot to add this.
Food Insecurity Less Prevalent in Canada Than in the United States
It's what I would have guessed, food stamps or not.

Last edited by BristolUK; Oct 17th 2020 at 10:16 pm.
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Old Oct 17th 2020, 11:23 pm
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Default Re: Food insecurity in Canada

That link seems to use data from 2003-2005 time frame which we didn't have food issue back then, our rent was $475 per month, and income was $1,500 per month which was a better income to rent ratio.

Rent today as what we pay now is 279% higher than 2003-2005 era, but income has only risen 75% to 85% roughly in that same time period and that is just rent, pretty much everything today is more expensive.

Social Assistance in BC varies by family size and category, for a single person it's $385.00 and up to $375 per month for housing. It's near impossible to find housing for $375 per month unless your in subsidized housing and subsidized housing is not easy to come by or quick to access, can literally take years to secure a unit, some will never get a subsidized unit, there is simply more people in need than subsidized housing available.

Either housing needs to come down in price or wages need to increase.



















Originally Posted by BristolUK View Post
I've always thought of food stamps as the lowest of the low. Almost like they come into play where other social programs have failed.

I know social assistance rates are very low. We lived at the social assistance level for a couple of years (with the added insecurity of expected income being late or not materialising) and then between $300 and $600 a month lower when the stepkids were too old to qualify for child benefits but were still at school.

It was tough but with judicious determination to get the best grocery deals, stock up on good prices, cook large amounts and freeze some meals etc and admittedly aided by the knowledge that things would be much better in a couple of years - which I'm sure makes a big difference but still meant we had the experience - we managed to put good food on the table. I remember my stepdaughter had some nutrition thing go on where the students in her class were to provide information on the meals eaten at home and her fresh fruit and veg consumption was higher than most.

J's point about being in a city is probably valid as we had the opportunity for getting good deals among several different stores with few transport issues and never even thinking about a food bank. Living in a one-store town would have been a lot more difficult.

Dammit, I forgot to add this.
Food Insecurity Less Prevalent in Canada Than in the United States
It's what I would have guessed, food stamps or not.

Last edited by Jsmth321; Oct 17th 2020 at 11:26 pm.
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Old Oct 18th 2020, 3:05 am
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Default Re: Food insecurity in Canada

Originally Posted by BristolUK View Post
I've always thought of food stamps as the lowest of the low. Almost like they come into play where other social programs have failed.

I know social assistance rates are very low. We lived at the social assistance level for a couple of years (with the added insecurity of expected income being late or not materialising) and then between $300 and $600 a month lower when the stepkids were too old to qualify for child benefits but were still at school.

It was tough but with judicious determination to get the best grocery deals, stock up on good prices, cook large amounts and freeze some meals etc and admittedly aided by the knowledge that things would be much better in a couple of years - which I'm sure makes a big difference but still meant we had the experience - we managed to put good food on the table. I remember my stepdaughter had some nutrition thing go on where the students in her class were to provide information on the meals eaten at home and her fresh fruit and veg consumption was higher than most.

J's point about being in a city is probably valid as we had the opportunity for getting good deals among several different stores with few transport issues and never even thinking about a food bank. Living in a one-store town would have been a lot more difficult.

Dammit, I forgot to add this.
Food Insecurity Less Prevalent in Canada Than in the United States
It's what I would have guessed, food stamps or not.
In 2017-18, 1 in 8 households in Canada was food insecure, amounting to 4.4 million people, including more than 1.2 million children living in food-insecure households.1
84% of people living in food-insecure households in 2017-18 were in one of four provinces: Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, or British Columbia.1
https://proof.utoronto.ca/food-insecurity/

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Old Oct 18th 2020, 3:05 am
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Default Re: Food insecurity in Canada

Like Bristol, I've always thought of food stamps being the last resort, and degrading to use.

and that comes from an experience back in the UK when there used to be stamp clubs, at least in the mill and mining towns. Women used to pay into the club weekly, and stamps were put in a card. Those cards could then be used to buy clothes, furniture, carpets, etc .............. but only at shops that would accept them. I don't know whether the groceries, butchers etc would accept them, there were no large supermarkets when I last knew about them. The shops then returned the stamps back to the club and received payment in cash. Some of the stores accepted the stamps pleasantly, others treated the customer who used them in a really degrading fashion.

I know about them because one of the shops where I worked in the 1950s accepted the stamps, and one of my jobs on a Saturday was often to walk over to the Stamp Club office and hand them over.

I've just checked online, and the budget allowed for a meal on food stamps is less than $1.50

How on earth can you get good nutrition with a budget of $1.50 per meal?
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Old Oct 18th 2020, 3:14 am
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Default Re: Food insecurity in Canada

BC have a form of food vouchers - https://bcfarmersmarket.org/coupon-p.../how-it-works/
https://bcfarmersmarket.org/coupon-p...e-it-operates/
Very useful if you qualify - the vouchers can be spent at various farmers markets - for veg / fruit / meat etc.
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Old Oct 18th 2020, 6:02 am
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Default Re: Food insecurity in Canada

Originally Posted by scilly View Post
Like Bristol, I've always thought of food stamps being the last resort, and degrading to use.

and that comes from an experience back in the UK when there used to be stamp clubs, at least in the mill and mining towns. Women used to pay into the club weekly, and stamps were put in a card. Those cards could then be used to buy clothes, furniture, carpets, etc .............. but only at shops that would accept them. I don't know whether the groceries, butchers etc would accept them, there were no large supermarkets when I last knew about them. The shops then returned the stamps back to the club and received payment in cash. Some of the stores accepted the stamps pleasantly, others treated the customer who used them in a really degrading fashion.

I know about them because one of the shops where I worked in the 1950s accepted the stamps, and one of my jobs on a Saturday was often to walk over to the Stamp Club office and hand them over.

I've just checked online, and the budget allowed for a meal on food stamps is less than $1.50

How on earth can you get good nutrition with a budget of $1.50 per meal?

It sucks being low income no matter where you are really. Although eastern Canada seems not a good place to need help, the programs seem rather limited compared to BC.

Not really any better here in BC getting food when on social assistance, like I said when I was on regular assistance, after rent and phone (prepaid $20 per month) I had about $2 per day to cover all my needs including food.


The housing portion of assistance hasn't been increased in like 12 years now, and SRO's in DTES even run $600+ per month for the private non-subsidized ones. (looks like the average is $687 per month now. Total assistance per month is $710 including housing supplement.)


They don't use actual stamps in the US anymore, it's all electronic debit card now. You would never know if the person in front of you at the store is receiving food stamps.

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Old Oct 18th 2020, 5:20 pm
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Default Re: Food insecurity in Canada

But the "food stamp" system is still based on $1.46 per meal per month. Not much!
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Old Oct 18th 2020, 7:03 pm
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Default Re: Food insecurity in Canada

Originally Posted by scilly View Post
But the "food stamp" system is still based on $1.46 per meal per month. Not much!
This is a case of something even if its $1.46 per meal is better than nothing.

Keep in mind US food prices tends to be lower, and they get more buying power with their money, a dollar in the US goes further than a dollar does in Canada.

$15 per hour in California has more buying power than $15 per hour in BC does.

$1.46 per meal times 3 meals per day is about $131 per month. Keep in mind most on food stamps have some source of income such as disability, unemployment, part-time employment, in some states a single person working full-time for min wage can still qualify, it's a program designed to provide some additional assistance specifically for food not to provide 100% of your food needs.

Say you get social security disability in the US, the average SSD payment in the US is $1,258 per month (can be as low as $800 and as high as $1,800 as its based on lifetime earnings at the time of the disability)

SSD 1,258 + $139 = $1,397 per month.

In BC PWD is a flat $808.42 per month + $375 for housing for a total of $1,183.42

In some provinces the disabled get next to nothing support wise, BC is one of more generous provinces.

Point is it's still a good program that helps people and helps, the US still has food banks too. Food banks in Canada keep seeing increased demand, and increasingly hard for some food banks to meet the demand placed on them.



This is what you can get for $131 at a store in California, would be even cheaper if you went to discount grocery stores but they don't have websites where I can price online, so I used a middle of the road store.
Spoiler:
10 jars of pasta sauce
10 boxes of pasta (larger sized boxes)
30 pounds of potatoes
6 pounds of beef roast, can be cut to make several meals with
big bag of rice
bag of oat meal
3 gallons of milk
2 bags of fruit 2kg each (converted from oz and rounded down to the nearest whole)
5lb of frozen mixed veggies
2 1/2 pounds of chicken thighs, approx 9 per pack, so 18 thighs in total
60 eggs

Same food locally here in Kelowna would range from $208 to $230 depending on store. ( compared sizes as close as I could, some products are smaller quantity in BC, or brands differ, but type of food is the same, using the best unit price for each item)





Canada needs to do something because housing especially is outpacing incomes, when people see rent increases over a decade of 200% or more but their income only climbs 50% or 75% in the same time frame, well no surprise people struggle.

This is what CMHC and BC Housing consider the lowest gross income needed to afford market rent in Vancouver.

These wages are not realistic for a lot of people, these people still need housing though, but pay a lot more of their income towards housing, and don't always have much left for luxuries like food or medication.

Senior homelessness is also a growing issues in Vancouver

$51,500 1 bed (about $24.75 gross per hour needed based on a 40 hour work week)
$63,000 2 bed (about $30 gross per hour)
$73,500 3 bed
$83,500 4 bed




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Old Oct 18th 2020, 7:08 pm
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Default Re: Food insecurity in Canada

Originally Posted by scilly View Post
But the "food stamp" system is still based on $1.46 per meal per month. Not much!
If you had no money for food (because all your income had to go to rent / utilities), then that $1.46 per meal, per month, would be a blessing, regardless, I think. I agree it's not much - it should be at least $2

You can make pasta sauces/ chili / shepherds pie using ground beef on offer, and vegetable stew / lentil or bean based meals with rice and curry etc., grate a carrot or two into them, chuck whatever veg you can afford or get hold of as well, utilisiing the 'end of day rack' when they sell off vegetables and bread at minimum prices - ideal for a stew, add a can of cheap beans (kidney/navy/chick) and a bit of stock, there's your meal. Wilted lettuce is delicious if you slice and stir it into a bit of hot garlic oil It can be done, although it wouldn't be fun. The trick to eating frugally is to buy lots of veg, use pulses and beans for protein, lots of spices and herbs to make it tasty! - then make a bulk batch up and keep some for the next day - or the day after - or freeze.

Back in the day when I was in my teens in my first apartment and living on the breadline, I had £2 a week for food.. I lived off vegetable stew, vegetable curry and spanish omelettes (onion, potato, dried peppers, 1 or 2 eggs) a type of fritata really. With the stew/curry I added a handful of whatever I could get hold of every couple of days, added it to the pot - heated it up and served it with a chunk of bread or a bit of rice (if I had any), I kept the same base cooking all week, it's a wonder I didn't poison myself, lol..

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Old Oct 18th 2020, 9:51 pm
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Default Re: Food insecurity in Canada

Originally Posted by Jsmth321 View Post
It sucks being low income no matter where you are really. Although eastern Canada seems not a good place to need help, the programs seem rather limited compared to BC..
Yeah, we've talked about this before. The Disability aspect is poor here. But the drug program that we depended on for a period was actually better than most others once you were actually on it and the current Drug Plan (available for everyone, with a wide range of premiums and co-pays) is pretty damn good and totally affordable.
Also of relevance is the lower cost of housing. As I said above, as a family of four, we managed on an income $300 to $600 a month lower than social assistance levels for a family of four with housing costs nearer to normal rent levels rather than social/subsidised housing.

According to that link from Siouxie most food insecurity is situated in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, or British Columbia. That's quite a lot West, area wise - although that's perception according to whether one lives on the left half or the right half.

Originally Posted by Siouxie View Post
You can make pasta sauces/ chili / shepherds pie using ground beef on offer, and vegetable stew / lentil or bean based meals with rice and curry etc., grate a carrot or two into them, chuck whatever veg you can afford or get hold of as well, utilisiing the 'end of day rack' when they sell off vegetables and bread at minimum prices - ideal for a stew, add a can of cheap beans (kidney/navy/chick) and a bit of stock, there's your meal.
Our cheapest dinner was a huge pot of pasta sauce on the stove for 2 to 3 hours then poured into tupperware pots and frozen. A lot of work all in one go but a great time saver every time we had it thereafter. Dried pasta could always be had for a dollar or less - and still can after all this time

I calculated the cost of the sauce one day - I had lots of time - and it came out as around 50c per meal for the four of us, so add the pasta and $1.50 fed us, actually leaving enough for the kids for a school lunch. It didn't have to be the next day but they loved it and still do.

Of course that was an exception; other things cost as much as $4 for four dinners and a couple of lunches. There's a thread on it somewhere.
We could also afford steak - just the $2.99 lb stuff - and the typical Sunday roast was absolutely normal, though mostly chicken.
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