Food insecurity, a social determinant of health, is a problem that continues to plague populations in Canada.
It is the inadequate access to nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and promotes a healthy life. In order to combat the issue of food insecurity, a bill (later defeated) was proposed to promote donation of edible food items to charitable organizations, for example, food banks. Yet, Dachner and Tarasuk (2017) argued that increasing donations to food banks are not sufficient to tackle the issue of food insecurity. The article indicated that with the rise in food banks, there was also a rise in food insecure people, suggesting that food unavailability was not the cause of food insecurity.
Their paper discussed the issue of food insecurity and income inequality. The decline in income available to middle-class families has increased the income inequality in the Canadian population. Therefore, Dachner & Tarasuk (2017) posited that food insecurity could only be reduced by improving the financial circumstances of low-income households.
So, this paper will argue that the poor income distribution is the root of food insecurity because it restricts access to healthy food choices. Discussion The amount of income available to a family regulates the food options available to a family. Dennis Raphael (2010) linked the cause of food insecurity to financial constraints experienced by low-income Canadian households. Since poor household often live on tight budgets, food budget are usually the first to be cut after rent and other bills had been paid for. Hence, lower-income families tended to be eight (8) times hungrier than families with higher income (Raphael, 2010).
The high cost of healthy foods is a contributing factor as lower-income families might be unable to afford healthy food item, hence, relying on unhealthy processed food which were often cheaper and did not meet dietary needs of individuals. People with higher income are also likely to incorporate vegetables into their meals because they were able to afford them. Low income contributes to food insecurity because it dictates food choices that are available to a family. With insufficient income, families might be dependent on charitable organizations i.e. food banks. Although, they were put in place to alleviate food insecurity and hunger, food banks do not meet the demands of many food insecure individuals (Dachner& Tarasuk, 2017).
Firstly, many food-insecure individuals do not use the food bank, hence, increasing the volume food waste and greenhouse gas emissions. Food banks are also limited in food options as they can only provide clients with the small edible portions of food that was donated. Therefore, food is usually rationed amongst families and the amount of food available to a family is restricted because the demand outweighs the supply. The assistance food banks provide is not sufficient to meet the dietary needs of food-insecure families. Poverty can also define the location a family resides. People who live in disadvantaged neighborhoods have poor access to supermarkets. Food deserts describe areas that experience difficulties in accessing affordable, good-quality food. Larsen and Gilliland (2008) found out those inner city neighborhoods had to access grocery stores by public transit.
Grocery stores are important because they provide easy access to fresh-quality products. Conversely, due to lack of poor access to supermarkets, low-income families resort to shopping at corner stores where food prices are higher and healthy food options are fewer (Larsen & Gilliland, 2008). The difficulty in accessing grocery store further compounds the problem of food insecurity since poor families are not able to meet their dietary needs.
Conclusion The decline in income available to middle-class families has resulted in a rise of food insecurity. Poor households are limited in access to healthy food options due to financial constraints, distance and the inability for food charities to effectively diminish hunger. Policies need to be put in place to address the issue of food insecurity in Canadian populations. Primary interventions that address income equalities need be implemented, increasing minimum wages. Also, creating equalities in educational opportunities would give everyone a chance at obtaining a gainful employment.
Secondary policies that address food costs also need to be effected. The government needs to play a role in making healthy commodity crops inexpensive, therefore, more affordable for low-income individuals. Finally, making supermarkets more accessible in low-income neighborhoods is vital to addressing food insecurity. Building more grocery stores in poor neighborhoods would alleviate the impact of food deserts and also reduce food insecurity.