In today’s world there is a steady increase of people who cannot afford one nutritious meal a day (let alone three) and this is worrisome. Even worse, children are in these homes and they suffer more so than adults because of their developing bodies. We have a serious crisis here in Canada and especially in the U.S. and there appears to be no viable solutions on the horizon.
There is no shortage of information out there that reveals how grave this situation has become. In the United States there was an average of 46,609,072 people on food stamps every month throughout 2012 with 47,791,996 people on food stamps in December 2012. To put that in perspective, that’s 13,309,217 more people on food stamps than the entire population of Canada!
Canada has a huge problem as well. According to a report called the Household Food Insecurity in Canada (2011) there are 3.9 million Canadians who experienced what is called food insecurity in 2011. This includes a staggering 1.1 million children living in homes who fear running out of food before their next cheque, compromise healthy food with fillers, have had to use a food bank, or have gone without eating all together. In fact, 93,000 Canadians are accessing food banks for the first time every month. In order to give food, 55 percent of food banks have been forced to cut back on the amount of food provided to each household.
- 15 percent of the American population is on food stamps.
- 11.5 percent of Canadians are in a food insecure or crisis situation.
What does it mean to be in a food insecure household in Canada? It means:
- 97% reported being worried that their food would run out before they got money to buy more.
- 93% reported that the food bought for the household did not last and there was no money to buy more.
- 94% reported that they could not afford to eat balanced meals.
- 96% reported that they had cut the size of meals, or skipped meals entirely because there wasn’t enough money to purchase food; 86% reported that this had occurred several times.
- 96% felt that they had eaten less than they should because there wasn’t enough money to buy food.
- 71% reported being hungry but not eating because they couldn’t afford enough food.
- 56% of respondents had lost weight because they didn’t have enough money for food.
- 37% reported that an adult did not eat for an entire day because there wasn’t enough money for food.
- 30% reported that this happened several times.
Among households with children:
- 85% relied on a few kinds of low-cost foods to feed children.
- 75% could not afford to feed their children balanced meals.
- 46% of the households, children were not eating enough because there was not enough money for food.
- 18% cut the size of children’s meals, and in 11% of households children missed meals.
- 21% of children were hungry.
- 2% went a whole day without food.
There is no need to be without nutrition when edible wild plants grow all around us. Plants, weeds, trees, and bushes – the bounty is endless and it is all free food! Edible wild food is not only free but in many cases some of these plants have more nutrition than store-bought produce.
I urge everyone to help where possible and donate to a local food bank. When you are there, tell the volunteers and workers at the food bank about edible wild plants and that they need to be exploring wild edible education programs for those who visit the food bank. Integrating wild edibles into the daily diet can help stave off hunger and more importantly, provides nutrition levels that food banks can’t provide. The best part of all is that wild edibles are free food!
Household Food Insecurity in Canada 2011:
Weekly Standard Blog: