News and announcements
Bang your forks and spoons and raise your glasses (of water): Nutrition Month is here!
Are you surprised by our excitement? It's true: for many, the word “nutrition” elicits yawns or, worse, confusion, frustration, and stress. How do you parse the piles of conflicting information about what you should eat, and why? How do you find the time in your busy daily routine to implement the best practices experts throw at you? How do you navigate through a world when unhealthy choices are so much easier to make than healthy ones?
Don’t despair. This year, National Nutrition Month comes on the heels of some positive developments that should ease some of that frustration. The most significant one of these is the release of the new Canada’s Food Guide. The new guide provides evidence-based and easy-to-understand information not only on what to eat, but also how to eat. With the much-needed updated guide in hand, it’s now a bit easier to make healthy food choices.
But not everyone will be able to implement its recommendations. For the four million Canadians who struggle with food insecurity and can’t afford to put food on the table, many of the Guide’s recommendations are out of reach. And that’s where you, and we, step in.
This month, we’re shining a light on the challenges many Canadians face in accessing healthy food during Nutrition Month. And we’re profiling some of the programs and places that are leading the way in supporting low-income Canadians to access healthy food and support.
Why is good food out of reach?
A new study from Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph found that 26 per cent of participants said affordability was a barrier to adopting the recommendations in the new Canada’s Food Guide. Look at the cost of a Nutritious Food Basket for a family of four in major Canadian cities and compare that to what that family receives if they're on social assistance: if a family of four on social assistance in Calgary tried to follow Canada's Food Guide, they'd have only $151 left over to pay for rent, transportation, clothing, household needs.
That’s why food is often one of the first things to go when the budget gets stretched too thin. And that has real consequences. When you can’t afford good food, your health suffers.
Breaking down barriers
The most important thing we can all do is push all levels of government to implement policies that put more money in people’s pockets so they can afford good food.
That means pushing for increases to social assistance rates so people don’t have to choose between paying rent and buying food. It means strengthening labour laws and increasing the minimum wage. It means expanding tax credits like the Canada Child Benefit and looking at universal benefits like a basic income. In a word, it means eliminating poverty.
We also need policies that make it easier to make food choices that are good for our health. The new Food Guide was a good first step. The federal government must deliver the two remaining pillars of the Healthy Eating Strategy: front-of-package labelling for sodium, sugars, and saturated fats, and legislation to restrict junk food marketing to kids. That last piece is languishing on the Senate agenda and we all need to demand the Senate call a vote and get it passed.
Supporting people right now
While we continue to push for these policy changes, we're working in communities right now to support low-income Canadians to make manageable and lasting changes to their diets and health, and to come together over food.
FoodFit is one of those initiatives: the program meets people where they're at by creating a fun environment where people can come together to learn new nutrition knowledge and food skills, get active, and make new friends.
And people are seeing big changes in their health and in their lives after being part of the program. Don’t take our word for it, hear from Calgarians Keely and Sherry on the impact coming to The Alex Community Food Centre has had on their lives.
You can bring some of the top takeaways from FoodFit into your kitchen — click here to try out our top three FoodFit recipes.