Food insecurity is when you experience uncertain and insufficient access to food. Food insecurity and income are closely linked.

In Guelph and Wellington County, one in five households with incomes below $40,000 is food insecure. Food banks across our region have all experienced significant increases in the number of clients over the last few years. According to data from the Canadian Community Health Survey, 7.4 per cent of households in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph experience some form of food insecurity.

There are many negative health outcomes associated with being food insecure. For example, it can lead to an increased risk for nutrient inadequacies, adverse pregnancy outcomes, chronic diseases, depression and distress, poor academic performance, or impaired development of social skills.

In 2013, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health estimated it would cost a family of four $195 per week to eat healthy. Since 2009, there has been a 16.7 per cent increase in the cost of food.

Although the increasing food costs appear to be a concerning factor, if we compare income case scenario, we quickly see that inadequate income is a major root issue. After paying for housing and other basic living expenses, many individuals and families with a limited income do not have enough money left over to purchase nutritious food on a consistent basis.

This infographic by Food Banks Canada was part of the HungerCount report. The report states that while there was a drop of approximately 40,000 food bank users between 2012 – 2013, there were 833,000 food bank users in Canada. This is 23% more than the number of people who accessed food banks prior to the 2008 recession. PROOF’s Household Food Insecurity in Canada 2012 report, stated that approximately 1.4 Million households experience food insecurity in Canada.

Is it time to close the London Food Bank?

That’s a “beautiful question,” says the head of a research program investigating food policy in Canada.

“It’s wonderful that the people operating the food bank are so critically reflective of their practice,” says Valerie Tarasuk, a professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto and principal investigator for PROOF — a program to study food policies and food “insecurity” in Canada.

“We can certainly find other people running food banks that say it’s nothing to do with politics, saying ‘it’s our mission,’ or ‘we’ve got lots of food going into landfills, so this is environmental and charitable.’ ”

“Any self-respecting community or society has to be able to imagine a place without food banks,” said Gerard Kennedy, founder of the Edmonton Food Bank and former leader of the Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto. “You can’t separate people out in society and say, some get to go to a supermarket with 30,000 things in it and others get to go to a church basement and get served.

“The goal should be to get rid of hunger, extreme poverty, destabilization of families who want to get on their feet.”