Fighting poverty with food security

 

Public Health Dietician Laura Needham (left) and Jill Umbach, Planning Network Coordinator with Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force, discussed food security issues with Saugeen Shores councillors at their July 24 meeting. Councillors were asked to consider endorsing a Bruce Grey Food Charter to create a just, sustainable and secure food system.  

For the past four years the Grey Bruce Poverty Task Force – politicians, 51 social agencies and community-based partners – have examined the root causes of poverty and identified barriers to change.

One of the main issues is food security – having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, appropriate and nutritious food – supported by a Food Charter that values health, social justice, culture, education, sustainable economic development and the environment.

Jill Umbach, Planning Network Coordinator with Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force, and Public Health Dietician Laura Needham asked councillors to consider endorsing the Food Charter, which acknowledges the basic right to food, and is a commitment to work to towards a “vibrant, sustainable, food secure community,” Councillors were also asked to reconsider the way they “treat people who don’t have food.”

She said the 21 food banks in Grey Bruce do not address the main cause of food insecurity, so they need to change the “cultural way that we treat people who don’t have food,” so food banks aren’t the “go-to place for people with low income.”

“Rather than looking at a charitable situation all the time… we want those people to actually access other systems – whether it is connecting with fresh produce from a farmer that’s got excess, or whether its connecting to community gardens that are good for mental health but [where they] also can access fresh food….” Umbach said.

Food banks are still needed for crisis back-up, but Umbach said low-income people need better access to food that involves them more in the food system, including community gardens and school snack programs.

Coun. Mike Myatt said the 17 per cent poverty rate for those under-19 in Grey Bruce “struck a chord” and asked the source of the statistic and if the number was broken down further to give a Saugeen shores number.

Umbach said it was Census Canada data estimating that in Saugeen Shores, the average rate would be 14 to 17 per cent because the economy is stronger in Bruce than in Grey County. After the meeting Umbach said the 17 per cent figure represents the number of people under 19 in a family of four with annual income less than $42,000.

Coun. Neil Menage asked if people could legally give away surplus food – he’d had to compost an over-abundant crop of grapes. Umbach said it is “totally acceptable” noting there are Second Harvest programs and they are all noted on a food asset map. Menage also suggested they could develop community gardens in local passive parks.

Saugeen Shores Coun. Dave Myette thanked Umbach and Needham for “planting the seeds” to develop food security, and said he’d bring a motion to endorse the Food Charter at the future town council meeting.

In related news…

Umbach said the first Grey Bruce Poverty Task Force, Bridges Out of Poverty program – Getting Ahead –  holds its first sessions in Port Elgin,  starting on August 14 at the Community Housing Centre.

The program offers people receiving Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program benefits, an eight-week program that looks at generational and situational poverty and looks at the resources available for low-income people in the community to deal with housing, transportation and social issues. Anyone interested should contact their worker for a referral. She said some of the graduates of the Port Elgin Bridges Out of Poverty program would be invited to speak to Saugeen Shores Council at a future date about their experiences.

Volunteer Opportunity: Photographers

We’re looking for local photographers!

Do you have a passion for photography, your own DSLR camera and experience with photo editing? We could use your help!

We are looking for volunteers to help make a difference by harnessing the power of photography to advocate for poverty reform and social change in Bruce and Grey Counties.

The volunteer will help us to cover some of the more exciting work we do and events we and our member organizations run while helping to raise the profile of the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force.

What needs to get done:

Assisting the Task Force team, you will be helping to document our work and the efforts of our member organizations.

You may be asked to photograph seminars, workshops, indoor and/or outdoor events as well as local places of interest. Your tasks will also include talking to volunteers, participants and the general public about their opinions and experiences, obtaining permissions, and of course taking photographs.

What you will need:

  • You will need to own – or have access to – a DSLR camera,
  • You should have some experience with digital editing,
  • Experience with Flickr, WordPress, Twitter and Facebook would be an advantage.

What you will get out of it:

This is an excellent opportunity to gain valuable volunteer experience in your community while helping to fight poverty and improve the lives of people in the Grey Bruce area.

All photographs used will be credited to the photographer. They may appear on our website, social media channels, internal and / or external publications. Your photographs may also be sent as part of press release packages to local and national press agencies.

References will also be provided upon request.

Want to learn more?

Contact us to start volunteering today!

Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force – Social Media Survey

Social Media Survey

Thank you for agreeing to take part in this important survey measuring the social media use of Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force members, staff and volunteers.

We will be gaining your thoughts and opinions in order to better understand the needs of our members, develop suitable training materials and continue to improve our online presence.

This survey should only take 5-10 minutes to complete. Be assured that all answers you provide will be kept in the strictest confidentiality.

Click here to complete the survey now!

Thank you for your time and participation!

– The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force team

15 for ’15 Holiday Wish List from Poverty Task Force

Along with the release of the Nutritious Food Basket Survey for 2014, the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force released its Holiday Wish List – 15 Wishes for ’15.  We know that achieving food security for your family is not so simple for families living under the poverty line. Its take a good income and benefits; safe and affordable housing; access to transportation to get to work and school; and being included in a caring community.

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