In Canada, 1 in 8 households are food insecure—approximately 4 million Canadians, 1.15 million of whom are children. Food insecurity is the inability to acquire or consume an adequate diet quality or sufficient quantity of food in socially acceptable ways, or the uncertainty that one will be able to do so.
When all members of a given community have equitable access to sufficient amounts of nutritious food, they are able to live healthy and active lives. Food programs are typically situated in communities with financial and economic constraints, and are often designed for sole parents, individuals with low education and income levels, that may speak languages other than English, who rent their homes, and who struggle with finding food that are fresh, convenient and affordable.
Programs that work increase participants’ food security, as well as self-sufficiency and resilience. For example, culinary training increases knowledge and skills in planning and preparing healthy meals leading to healthier eating practices. People living in low-income communities save money and eat healthier by improving their access to affordable vegetables and fruit. A degree of flexibility, for example verbal instructions and demonstrations, customizable meals and for programs using vouchers, having multiple markets, grocery stores or sites where they can be redeemed gives autonomy to participants and increases usage. Additionally, making sure that transportation and hours of operation are not barriers increases access, and universally accessible food initiatives in communities are critical to realizing an equitable and inclusive food system.
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