Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit tackles food insecurity

Kingstonist file photo

The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit is launching a month-long campaign in November, shedding light on the critical issue of food insecurity that affects countless individuals and families in the community. The initiative aims to address the underlying problems contributing to inadequate or insecure access to food, emphasizing that food insecurity is fundamentally an income issue, not just a food issue.

Food insecurity, stemming from financial constraints, can have profound impacts on individuals, leading to skipped meals, compromised mental and physical health, and increased susceptibility to chronic diseases. Recognizing the urgent need for action, the Health Unit is spotlighting poverty as the root cause of this pervasive problem.

The campaign underscores the findings of the Nutritious Food Basket Program, which reveals the stark reality faced by families in the region. For instance, in June 2023, the average monthly cost of a nutritious food basket for a family of four, including two adults, a young girl, and a teenage boy, was $1,130. This cost leaves families with minimal funds—just $87—for other essential expenses after accounting for rent, utilities, and basic living expenses. These circumstances highlight the urgency of addressing the underlying income disparities that perpetuate food insecurity.

While food programs and charities provide short-term relief, the Health Unit emphasizes the importance of long-term solutions. Addressing poverty at its core involves ensuring social assistance rates and minimum wages cover basic living expenses. Initiatives such as tax filing support for low-income households and encouraging local businesses to become Living Wage employers are steps in the right direction. A living wage, calculated yearly based on community data, represents the minimum hourly wage needed to cover essential expenses. In Leeds, Grenville, and Lanark, the living wage for 2023 is $20.60. The campaign encourages organizations to support this movement by becoming certified Living Wage employers.

To combat food insecurity effectively, the Health Unit urges the community to take action by educating, advocating, supporting, sharing, and practicing kindness. By raising awareness about the root causes and collaborating on sustainable solutions, the community can work together to eliminate food insecurity in Leeds, Grenville, and Lanark.

For more information about Food Insecurity, the Nutritious Food Basket Program, Health Equity, and Living Wage, residents are encouraged to visit healthunit.org. Alternatively, they can contact the Health Unit at 1-800-660-5853, email contact@healthunit.org, or follow LGLHealthunit on Facebook and lglhealthunit.z on Instagram

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