When it comes to tackling food insecurity, tackling anti-Black racism is an important part of the puzzle

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Originally published in Healthy Debate on October 26, 2021.

By Tim Li

This article is based on interviews from PROOF’s special podcast presentation, “Why eliminating food insecurity requires dismantling anti-Black racism.” Listen below or visit here for the full presentation, transcript, and show notes.


We’ve known for a while that Black households in Canada are more likely to experience inadequate or insecure access to food due to financial constraints, but little has been done to better understand this disparity.

Collaborating with FoodShare, a leading food justice organization, we recently completed the first focused study on the racial disparities in food insecurity in Canada.

“When it comes to food insecurity, I feel like we’re often footnotes,” says Paul Taylor, the executive director of Food Share, who was astounded that there had been no prior research to further understand the high rate of food insecurity among Black Canadians.

PROOF Podcast: Why eliminating food insecurity requires dismantling anti-Black racism

We’ve known for a while that Black households in Canada are more likely to experience inadequate or insecure access to food due to financial constraints, but little has been done to better understand this disparity. This special podcast presentation explores our recent study, “Black–white racial disparities in household food insecurity from 2005 to 2014, Canada” published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health.

We spoke with:
Paul Taylor, Executive Director of FoodShare
Simran Dhunna, MPH, lead author on this paper
Melana Roberts, Chair of Food Secure Canada
Andrée-Anne Fafard St-Germain, PhD

This podcast inspired our article in Healthy Debate, which you can read here:https://healthydebate.ca/2021/10/topic/food-insecurity-anti-black-racism/

Show Notes | Transcript

 

 

Healthy Cities in the SDG Era Podcast: Zero Hunger

In episode 7 of the Healthy Cities in the SDG Era podcast, Dr. Valerie Tarasuk, spoke with host Dr. Erica Di Ruggiero about food insecurity in Canada in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), a set of 17 goals tackling social, economic, and environmental challenges for UN Member States to deliver on by 2030. Sustainable Development Goal 2 is Zero Hunger, meaning Canada has committed to ending hunger and ensuring all Canadians have access to food. Later in the episode, Dr. Erica Di Ruggiero also speaks with PhD Candidate, Allison Daniel, about SDG 2 in the global context.

Listen to the full episode here and check out our highlights below:

PROOF discusses food insecurity in Canada on Rights Not Charity Podcast

PROOF principal investigator, Dr. Valerie Tarasuk, recently discussed food insecurity in Canada with the Global Solidarity Alliance for Food, Health and Social Justice as part of their Rights Not Charity podcast series. Through Canada’s monitoring of food insecurity over the past 15 years, it’s become clear that our social safety net needs to be strengthened to protect Canadians from being food-insecure.

Show highlights:

  • How food insecurity is defined and measured in Canada
  • The extent of household food insecurity in Canada and who is most impacted
  • How food insecurity is rooted in social and economic disadvantage, systemic racism, and the legacy of colonialism
  • What food insecurity says about Canada’s social safety net and the need to strengthen it so that it is accountable for ensuring all Canadians have enough money to afford basic needs

The Guardian Op-ed – P.E.I. made history by setting a timeline for eliminating food insecurity: Here’s how they can achieve it.

Read our new op-ed, “P.E.I. made history by setting a timeline for eliminating food insecurity: Here’s how they can achieve it.“, by Jennifer Taylor, PhD, RD, Professor at the University of Prince Edward Island; Tim Li, MSCom, PROOF Research Program Coordinator; and Valerie Tarasuk, PhD, Professor at the University of Toronto and principal investigator of PROOF.

In this op-ed, we discuss the significance of the food insecurity reduction targets set by the new Poverty Elimination Strategy Act and 4 evidence-based actions that the PEI government can pursue to reach these targets. We highlighted this historic bill in our previous blog post, “Prince Edward Island: The first jurisdiction to set explicit targets for reducing food insecurity“.


During the spring sitting, the P.E.I. legislature unanimously passed the Poverty Elimination Strategy Act, which lays out a timeline for reducing and eliminating poverty by 2035 and eliminating food insecurity by 2030. That means that, by 2030, every household in P.E.I. will be able to access the food they need.

What does it mean to be food-insecure? When Statistics Canada measures food insecurity, they are identifying households who have experienced insecure or inadequate access to food due to a lack of money. These experiences range from worrying about running out of food, to children not eating for whole days. As researchers in food insecurity and nutrition, we’ve learned a lot about this problem and ways to reduce it from the Statistics Canada data.

Continue reading at The Guardian.

New Research & Fact Sheet – Provincial Policy Levers to Reduce Household Food Insecurity

Screenshot of fact sheet: Provincial Policy Levers to Reduce Household Food Insecurity

Download the fact sheet here: https://proof.utoronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/PROOF_FACTSHEET_Provincial-policies-052021.pdf

PROOF has recently published a new study in the journal, Preventive Medicine, looking at the roles of provincial policy and economic environment on food insecurity. This new PROOF fact sheet and video summarizes some of the findings from this study.


For more information about this research, please see:

Men, F., Urquia, M.L., Tarasuk, V., 2021. The role of provincial social policies and economic environments in shaping food insecurity among Canadian families with children. Preventive Medicine 148, 106558. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091743521001420

To see our other factsheets on food insecurity in Canada, visit https://proof.utoronto.ca/resources/fact-sheets.

New Video – How to tackle food insecurity in Canada


Visit https://proof.utoronto.ca/whiteboard/ for the video transcript and references.

Written and animated by: Natalie Klein, MPH
Supervised and edited by: Dr. Valerie Tarasuk
Video support provided by: Tim Li, MSCom

Tell your federal, provincial, or municipal leaders what we know for sure:

That food charity is not the answer to a problem rooted in income insufficiency.
That it is unacceptable that there are food insecure households in a country as rich as ours.
That we do not want federal funding of food banks, we want the government to explore, evaluate and implement sustainable income solutions to food insecurity.
Send them letters using this template created by the Ontario Dietitians in Public Health: https://www.odph.ca/what-can-you-do

New Research – Food insecurity amid the COVID-19 pandemic: food charity, government assistance and employment

Image of a 3D dollar sign with cutouts in the shape of a COVID-19 virus.

Our new study, “Food insecurity amid the COVID-19 pandemic: food charity, government assistance and employment”, published in Canadian Public Policy, looks at the face of food insecurity in the early days of the pandemic as it relates to employment and the new federal funding for food charity. We analyzed data from Statistics Canada’s Canadian Perspective Survey Series 2 (CPSS-2), an online survey of all ten provinces in May 2020.

Simply having a job does not protect someone from food insecurity. Before the pandemic, 65% of food-insecure households relied on wages and salaries as their main source of income in 2017-2018. Which workers were most vulnerable to food insecurity when the pandemic hit?

Prince Edward Island: The first jurisdiction to set explicit targets for reducing food insecurity

Text: Food insecurity in Prince Edward Island. Based on the most recently available data from 2017-2018: 14.0% of households were food-insecure. 19.2% of children under 18 lived in food-insecure households. Background: Silhouette of PEI map

Map of PEI modified from NordNordWest under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this month, MLAs in PEI unanimously passed the first bill in Canada that sets explicit and binding targets for food insecurity reduction. The Poverty Elimination Strategy Act, tabled by Green MLA Hannah Bell, establishes targets for reducing the rates of poverty, food insecurity, and chronic homelessness on the Island.[1]