Alleviating Hunger


People in even the most advanced industrialized nations go hungry every day. In 2009 in Canada, the number of Canadians needing aid from food banks swelled to almost 800,000 people.

“Food security — access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life — is one requirement for a healthy, well-nourished population.”

—United States Dept of Agriculture

Various organizations and local food banks are doing their best to solve the problem by asking for donations of money and food in their local communities.

However, much of the food that reaches those in need is simply unhealthy. A local food bank will often have boxes upon boxes of sugar-laden desserts and macaroni & cheese, but few fruits and vegetables or other fresh foods.

The consequences of this are significant.

North Americans are in the worst shape they’ve ever been in. Preventable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, are on the rise. Obesity, a risk factor for dozens of diseases, now affects millions in North America, and the percentage of children in the United States considered obese has tripled in the last twenty years.

Those problems are directly related to the typical North American diet.

“The most important barrier to healthy eating is inadequate income.”

—Elaine M. Power,“Determinants of Healthy Eating Among Low-income Canadians.” Canadian Journal of Public Health 96 (July 2005): S37.

Most people assume that the problem is one of quantity – in other words, we just eat too much.

But over the last twenty years, much of the scientific research has shown that the quality of food – what types of food we choose to eat – is at least as important to our overall health, if not more so. The sugar-laden desserts, the boxed foods and the quick fixes are costing us dearly, both by damaging our quality of life and by drastically increasing the health care costs borne by all.

The poorest in our society often have no choice but to eat what is available, and what they receive is often cheap, unhealthy food. The best efforts of those who seek to help, therefore, can have the unintended effect of perpetuating a health crisis among society’s most vulnerable.

It doesn’t have to be that way. With education, planning and strategic funding, those in need can both eat and eat well.

Many try to increase the quantity of food available to the poor and the hungry; we seek to increase the quality as well.