Anti-Poverty Advocates call for National Food Strategy

Guelph & Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination, the Children’s Foundation of Guelph and Wellington, and the Food Access Working Group of the Guelph-Wellington Food Round Table have recently sent a letter to MP Valeriote, MP Chong, MP Schellenberger, and MP Tilson adding support for a national food strategy.  The proposal was put forward by MP (Etobicoke North) Kirsty Duncan who called for a ‘pan-Canadian child and youth nutrition strategy and a fully funded on-reserve aboriginal student meal program’. (To read the full letter sent to MPs click here)

Too many children are going hungry with detrimental effects on health and development.  For children attending school, hunger and lack of nutrition manifests as increased illness, behavioural problems and trouble concentrating.  Food prices and drought have been all over the media lately as people brace themselves for the cost of goods to increase. In Canada increases are estimated to be 2.5 to 3.5 per cent this year and 3-4% per cent in 2013.

Peter Thurley, a member of Canada Without Poverty’s Board of Directors, supports the action and notes that, “Canada is one of the few industrialized countries that doesn’t have a food program for children.”  Peter is the Development Coordinator for the Children’s Foundation Food and Friends program in the Guelph area, which fed over 13,000 students in 2011-12.   He recognizes the need to federal leadership on hunger, as well as poverty as a whole.

Canada Without Poverty believes there is a role for the federal government to play in addressing hunger head-on, and recently recommended in our pre-budget submission that an emergency food fund be established to assist low income individuals and families as food prices creep upwards.

In the Guelph area where Peter works 1 in 10 children will not have enough to eat during the day.  More must be done to address this dire situation.