Solving Canada’s Food Security Conundrum
“Sometimes I have to make a choice – groceries or my medication. In the past I chose groceries, and my disease started growing,” – Joanne, a rescued food recipient at Loyola Arrupe Centre for Seniors.
Across Canada, there are more than 5.8 million people like Joanne who often face a tough choice between buying food and paying for rent, medication and other necessities. Where do you go to when the grocery list is long, but funds are short?
The invisible food network
Beyond food banks and soup kitchens, Canadians are also getting support from schools, senior centres, temples, mosques and other faith-based organizations, where distributing food is not always their main purposes. Together, they make up a massive but invisible patchwork system that distributes $33 billion-worth of food to Canadians facing food insecurity – equivalent to the second-largest grocery store in the country. For every grocery store in Canada, there are 4 charitable organizations that support people with food.
This disjointed network of community organizations faces a multitude of challenges. Second Harvest surveyed more than 1,000 of these organizations in late 2022 and found that they are anticipating a 60% growth in demand in 2023, following unprecedented 134% growth seen in 2022. Seventy percent of these organizations have reported needing a combination of food and financial support to meet this demand.
How do we reach people facing food insecurity across Canada and what can we do to connect them with the perfectly fine food that would otherwise end up in landfills?
Find the answers to these questions in Second Harvest’s research reports Canada’s Invisible Food Network and Wasted Opportunity. If we understand who is providing food and quantify the amount of surplus edible food produced and wasted by the food industry, we will be in a better position to get it into the hands of those facing food insecurity.
In March, we kicked off a series of five webinars to discuss the key findings from this research, starting with a closer look at the patchwork system of community organizations stepping up to nourish Canadians in need. Our first guest speaker was Jules Montgomery, Coordinator, Drop-in Services at The Neighbourhood Group.
In the upcoming sessions, we will dive into food loss and waste in the food industry and redefine the value of surplus edible food, which has the potential to feed millions of people.
See the full schedule of the webinars here and join us online! We look forward to seeing you there!