When we hear about issues related to poverty and hunger, images of poor, impoverished counties with starving children are what we instantly imagine. However, hunger is a huge issue we face here in Regina as well. Homelessness has been a rising concern for the past couple of years with many non-profits working on programs and projects to eliminate poverty, homelessness, and hunger throughout the city. Today, I want to focus on local hunger problems, and introduce you to some amazing organizations taking initiative to eliminate hunger from every home!
Issues of hunger and malnutrition are referred to as food security. Food security is a universal term defined as:
The access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life and includes at a minimum:
a) the ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, and;
b) the assured ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways (e.g., without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging, stealing, and other coping strategies). Food insecurity exists whenever [a] or [b] is limited or uncertain.
(From Anderson, M. D. and Cook, J. T. (1999) ‘Community food security: Practice in need of theory’, Agriculture and Human Values, 16, 2 141-150.)
Thus, food security is more than just making sure everyone has something to eat. It encompasses a greater ideal of making sure that everyone has enough to eat, to a satisfactory level, and that the food provided is not only nutritious, but also, does not offend any dietary restrictions for people (ie. vegetarian diet, gluten free, kosher or halal etc)
While food security is a HUGE issue worldwide, especially in less industrialized countries, I believe that we should look first in our own backyards. If each city focused on solving the food problems that it faced, I believe that we could overcome hunger and poverty. We have to focus on a micro-level, before moving on to a macro-level.
A professor at the University of Regina, Dr. Marc Spooner, actually designed a survival map of shelters, emergency food supplies, clothing, medical care, etc. for those who are homeless, or are in desperate need of emergency services in Regina.
Below is a video of one of the projects headed by Dr. Spooner called “Community Voices”. It takes a look at stories of homelessness in Regina, and the issues people face everyday – most of which we take for granted.
Dr. Spooner’s work focuses on poverty and homelessness in the city, but from his work, it is possible to identify organizations in the city that work to solve the hunger equation faced by many people everyday.
Souls Harbour Soup Kitchen– Provides hot dinners for individuals who are not able to afford food. The soup kitchen is an essential part of the community, because it provides meals on a daily basis to men, women and children, who would otherwise go to bed hungry, if it did not exist. http://www.soulsharbourrescuemission.org/
Regina Food Bank– Provides individuals in need of food with emergency food supply that the can take home. The food bank collects food that may otherwise be thrown away from stores and warehouses. Instead, food in good condition is taken to the food bank, sorted, and put into hampers for individuals and families to pick up.http://reginafoodbank.ca/site/index.html
REACH (Regina Education & Action on Child Hunger)– While the food bank provides emergency food supply for people, REACH provides baskets of foods to individuals, for lower prices, to help integrate people back into society, and rebuild their independence. REACH also works to create school lunch programs, and offers seniors with ready-to-microwave meals to make their life simpler. In essence, REACH tries to eliminate food insecurity by providing individuals of all ages and sizes an alternative way to purchase their food. http://www.reachinregina.ca/
The above three are the most prominent organizations in Regina that help to tackle the issue of hunger in the city. They all try to provide proper food and nutrients to those in need.
Many amazing organizations are out there lending a hand to help those in need and are working to eliminate hunger. However, a great deal of power is held by the government which has the ability to create change in this cycle.
What if we lived in a city where no one went to bed hungry? Imagine if unemployment didn’t exist, and working wages were high enough to provide a sustainable and happy life for an individual, instead of forcing them to barely make it past the poverty line. Imagine if companies and food producers were less concerned with profit and more concerned with the number of people going hungry everyday. What a beautiful place this world would really be!
Food insecurity is not an issue on its own – it is a side effect of poverty. And poverty is its own complex problem that arises out of a broken society. So, if we really look at it, improving our society by creating governmental policies and by expecting movement by the government on issues of poverty, affordable housing, and hunger, could actually be one step forward for solving these issues. Easier said then done, but hey, change happens over time, so why not start now?