Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
While many think that Christmas is still a long way off, it is only a mere eight weeks away and the Cudworth Lions Club has started thinking about the Christmas Hampers they regularly distribute to those in need each year.
With that in mind, they kicked off their annual Christmas Food Hamper collection with a food drive on Wednesday, October 18th. With the help of the Cudworth-Hoodoo Fire Department, volunteers traversed the streets of Cudworth in the Fire Department’s Rescue vehicles with lights flashing. Cudworth residents were asked to leave a non-perishable food item on their doorsteps to be picked up by the volunteers.
For those unable to leave donations on their doorsteps, collection barrels are set up at St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church, Bigway Foods Cudworth, and Kolla Collision Centre and will remain there until December 19. All donations stay in the community helping local families celebrate Christmas without worrying about what they can find in the cupboard to make a special meal.
Food insecurity can happen to anyone. In 2021, more than half (51.9%) of all the food-insecure households in Canada were identified as working households whose main source of income was from employment, as either employed workers or self-employed. Nearly 12 percent of all food-insecure households nationally received their income from public pensions, while just under 10 percent of the total number of households facing food insecurity were social assistance households. Only 0.9% of Canadian food-insecure households were living on employment insurance and 2.5% on private pensions.
The Canadian Community Health Survey conducted in 2004 found that Saskatchewan had the lowest rate of food insecurity in the country at 8.1 percent. In the past 19 years, that rate has more than doubled to 18.8 percent with only Alberta (20.3 per cent) and New Brunswick (19 per cent) having higher rates of food insecurity. One must question why.
The growth of the class in society that is commonly called the ‘working poor’ points to an answer. Study after study has established that food insecurity and poverty are closely linked.
It is important to recognize that poverty has economic and societal costs that need to be considered as well. There are remedial costs which refer to the price a province pays for failing to treat the symptoms of poverty including the costs to the health care system that result from the lower health status, the cost of fighting crime, and the cost of social assistance and related programs.
Organizations such as the Public Health Agency of Canada, The Heart and Stroke Foundation, and the Dietitians of Canada have all emphasized that food security is an important public health issue in this country, and having access to affordable, nutritious food is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. The flexibility of food purchases means that often when households are in financial difficulty, they will cut money from their food budget to cover other expenses such as rent and other bills. Food insecurity is a symptom of poverty and poverty in any form costs society.
Besides remedial costs, there are the loss of productivity and tax revenues society bears by not recognizing the potential economic contributions the poor could make, and the intergenerational costs that result from the inability to break the cycle of poverty and prevent the children of today’s poor from continued poverty. Poverty is a man-made crisis. Food insecurity is intrinsically linked to every other social justice issue, that fairness that is or is not manifested in society. Educating and empowering youth about all social justice issues such as fairness in healthcare, employment, and housing, for example, is essential when considering a solution to food security.
Parents in food-insecure households will often compromise their own diets to feed their children. These parents are then more susceptible to poor physical health including heart disease, diabetes, and chronic pain, as well as anxiety and depression. They may also feel stigmatized and embarrassed that they are unable to feed their children properly which increases the chances of social exclusion and isolation. This stigma keeps many from seeking help when experiencing food insecurity.
Lions’ members understand how difficult it is and applications for hampers are handled with the utmost consideration for privacy. For more information or to request a hamper contact Cudworth Lion Elizabeth at 306-256-7046 or 306-221-3020.
All individuals in Saskatchewan are affected by food insecurity, either directly or indirectly. Fortunately, each of us can play a positive role in helping create a more food-secure province. Be an advocate for vulnerable individuals and families. Support community-based organizations that are working towards increasing food security such as the local Lions Clubs and the Good Neighbours Food Centre in Rosthern.