Advocacy & Issues 10/16/2023 As we commemorate World Food Day this year, food prices are making national headlines. And for the first time, some of our Community Food Centre partners have been forced to turn people away from food access programs. We saw this situation coming for years, and now it’s playing out in real time. The problem is clear: Food insecurity continues to rise. In 2022, nearly one in five Canadians struggled to afford food—a number that is expected to increase again this year with rising inflation. Basic needs have become unaffordable for far too many people as incomes remain stagnant. We must stop treating food insecurity as an issue that starts and ends with food. Let’s be very clear: food insecurity is a problem of inadequate income which food charity cannot solve. The North Grove Community Food Centre in Dartmouth has seen a 135 per cent increase in people shopping at their subsidized produce market since last year. In Montreal, The Depot Community Food Centre is on track to distribute more than 20,000 food baskets by the end of this year. That’s double the number of baskets in all of 2022. Our partners across the country are in a constant state of juggling – increasing demand for programs, rising costs of running those programs, and the sense that relief is nowhere in sight. So far, our federal government’s solution to reining in food affordability has been to provide a one-time top-up to the GST rebate and ask Canada’s biggest grocery chains to stabilize their prices. These are surface-level responses at a time when our country needs thoughtful, long-term solutions. We must stop treating food insecurity as an issue that starts and ends with food. Let’s be very clear: food insecurity is a problem of inadequate income which food charity cannot solve. Tasha Lackman, executive director at The Depot Community Food Centre said it best in a recent interview with The Canadian Press: “The fact that the brunt of this massive, systemic social crisis falls on underpaid, over-solicited, under-resourced community organizations and their teams is unconscionable.” Instead, we need urgent political action and bold leadership to address food insecurity. Offloading the problem of food affordability onto grocery store chains is inadequate. Temporary price freezes on a few staple foods will not address the root causes of food insecurity. Progressive policy interventions are the only solution. What Canada needs right now is lasting, targeted income policy proven to address the root causes of food insecurity. Here are our recommendations: We call on the federal government to commit to reducing overall food insecurity by 50 per cent and eliminating severe food insecurity by 2030. Setting legislated targets can galvanize governments to invest in policy solutions that work. With our partners at Maytree, we call on the federal government to implement a Canada Working-Age Supplement to support people aged 18-64 who currently have limited or no safety nets to turn to. We also urge the government to adequately fund the Canada Disability Benefit to provide much-needed and long overdue support to people living with disabilities. Let’s use this World Food Day as a time to reflect and act on what we value as a country: dignity, equity, and human rights. We must find the political will to ensure everyone can afford to eat well and live a dignified life.