Before the pandemic, one out of six Canadian households with children and one-quarter of households who rented their homes, reported food insecurity within the previous 30 days. Two-thirds of the Canadians reporting food insecurity were employees.
With the winding down of emergency support programs, high living costs, and sticker shock prices of food, rates of hunger and malnutrition are rising.
According to Kirstin Beardsley, CEO of Food Banks Canada, “This summer will be the toughest Canada’s food banks will have ever experienced in our 41-year history.”
A growing percentage of our co-workers, neighbours, and friends, will ask themselves each month, do I pay the rent or put food on the table. What is the size of the problem? A ballpark estimate suggests up to 1,000 hungry children in North Delta alone.
Poor diets have its greatest impact on children. The medical profession is well aware of its consequences. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that doctors screen families for food insecurity during their visits.
Many published studies explore the effects of poor diets on children in Canada. Children who lack healthy, balanced diets may experience lower self-confidence, depression, anxiety, and asthma. In the classroom, hungry children may have less self-control, feel tired or be restless during class, act aggressively, and not play well with other children. They are more likely to miss classes, arrive late, and be referred to school psychologists.
What can you do? Become involved. Join the Parents Advisory Council of your child’s school and organize a hot lunch program. Become involved a community food bank as a volunteer, a donor, or a board member. Organize a food drive in your neighborhood. Sponsor a child through your local Rotary Club’s Starfish Pack program (https://starfishpack.com/).