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People and programs 01/22/2015

Here are five conversations we want to have more loudly, more often, and with more of you this year.

Expanding the use of the prescription pad
We know poverty is one of the most reliable predictors of poor health. Let's support progressive MDs like Dr. Gary Bloch and others who are writing prescriptions for basic income, connecting patients to the appropriate supports, and calling for policy responses on the scale required for the scale of the problem.

Bring on the Farmacy! Less than half of Canadians report eating the recommended amount of fruits and veggies. Let's explore prescribing fruits and veggies to treat diet-related illness, and support prescriptions with programs that provide affordable access to fresh produce. It’s already happening in the U.S., with increases in fruit and veg consumption having demonstrated outcomes on physical and mental health. 

Rethinking Canada's Food Guide
Let's establish healthy eating guidelines that incorporate the latest thinking on how we categorize and portion food for health, and that go beyond daily recommendations to consider the larger picture, including how food is prepared and consumed. Brazil put forward a progressive example last year. Let's follow their lead!

Reframing food charity as a policy issue
Let’s stop talking about hunger as a problem charity can solve. People are hungry because they are poor. Let's get at the root of the problem. We need to change the conversation around the solutions to hunger, and push our work beyond emergency responses to create opportunities for skill-building, for community engagement, and for action on the policies that last year led to food insecurity affecting 4 million Canadians. Dig deeper by listening to this conversation between Nick Saul and author Jan Poppendieck. 

Exploring Guaranteed Annual Income
Poverty costs Canadians an astonishing $72 to $84 billion per year by some estimates. The additional cost to the lives of low-income Canadians is impossible to calculate. Many of our current responses to poverty are inadequate and piecemeal. But what if we could ensure a baseline income for all Canadians? Let’s make more persuasive cases for how it could work — like this one, by former Senator Hugh Segal.

Put creative solutions that address local farm income and food accessibility on the table
Small farmers are an essential part of a healthy food system, yet many struggle to make ends meet. At the same time, many low-income people struggle to access affordable, fresh, local food. Creative policy mechanisms — like the aforementioned fruit and vegetable prescriptions — can help bridge the gap between sustainability and access. Let's get creative, and consider how our tax dollars can fund a healthier food economy.

What conversations do you want to have this year? Tweet your thoughts to @aplaceforfood

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