Give the gift of good food this holiday season

The holidays will look different for many of us this year. For those already grappling with food insecurity before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the toll will be great. There might not be a gathering around a festive dinner table, as many struggle in silence and navigate shame as they face a daily battle trying to get nutritious food on the table. In fact, the financial impacts of this pandemic could lead to an increase in the number of Canadians (food insecure households are estimated at around 5.5 million, up from 4.4 million pre-pandemic) living in a situation of food insecurity.

As part of the Canadian Perspectives Survey Series, Statistics Canada reports this web panel survey included a series of questions aimed at assessing the levels of food insecurity being experienced by Canadians. Almost one in seven (14.6%) Canadians indicated that they lived in a household where there was food insecurity in the past 30 days. This is based on a scale of six food experiences, ranging from food not lasting before there was money to buy more, to going hungry because there was not enough money for food.

It also important to note how race affects household food insecurity stats across Canada (as opposed to the aggregate data). PROOF released research that shows Black households are 3.5% more likely to experience food insecurity as compared to white households. In addition, 34% of Black children live in food insecure households as compared to just over 12% of white households.

The web panel results also found that there was a higher rate of food insecurity reported among Canadians living in a household with children (19.2%) compared to those living with no children (12.2%). In particular, when compared to households with no children, Canadians living in households with children were more likely to be worried about food running out before there was money to buy more and having difficulty affording to eat balanced meals.

Read more: Food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic: how you can help

Lend a helping hand during the holidays
FoodShare is a registered Canadian charity and Canada’s largest food justice organization leader in food security locally and globally. A leader in the food movement since 1985, FoodShare works to dismantle oppressive structures that hold poverty and food insecurity in place. To that end, they collaborate with and take their cue from those most affected by poverty and food insecurity – Black, Indigenous, People of Colour and people with disabilities. This year, they were awarded with the Excellence in Agriculture Award by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, in honour of their work to increase people’s access to produce grown by BIPOC communities.

You can nourish the holiday spirit, and help communities thrive, through a donation to FoodShare. No matter the size, your donation goes a long way. It’s the reason they can reach more than 250,000 people through their programs — opening up access to affordable, nutritious food, while reducing social isolation and strengthening community bonds.

Every donation makes a difference:

  • $25 – covers the cost of one Emergency Good Food Box
  • $50 – supports one virtual cooking workshop for newcomers to Canada
  • $100 – helps bring fresh produce to low-income neighbourhoods through Good Food Markets

Read more: Kindness: The gift that gives back

You can also purchase FoodShare’s Good Food Box. Choose from six generously sized Good Food Boxes, each one offering fresh, high-quality fruits and vegetables. In addition, you can add delicious locally made breads and crackers from The Spent Goods Company to your order. The Good Food Box is an affordable way to keep your fridge stocked with fruits and vegetables that are good for you, good for your family and good for your community. Proceeds from the Good Food Box support FoodShare’s ongoing work to advance food justice for low-income and equity-seeking communities in Toronto.

Holiday season support makes an impact the whole year through
When you join their circle of supporters this holiday season and champion food justice, you are joining a community that reaches 250,000+ people every year. Here are some ways your support will make a difference:

  • Chefs@Home workshops that bring some of Toronto’s most dynamic BIPOC chefs virtually into the homes of children and youth. Participating students receive a meal kit with enough fresh, high-quality ingredients to feed the whole family and have the opportunity to cook along with and be mentored by a professional chef who looks like them and understands their culture
  • Help the Good Food Program distribute over 2.2 million pounds of fresh produce, including Emergency Good Food Boxes that provide vital food access to people at heightened risk of food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Build an online resource for teachers from coast to coast to support in-class food education
  • Support Good Food Markets — subsidized produce markets reaching over 30,000 people each year in low-income communities and Neighbourhood Improvement Areas throughout Toronto

Read more: After the lights come down: Mental health during and after the holidays

While we gear up to celebrate a holiday season like no other, there will be challenges. But all is not lost. Kindness, giving and gratitude – those are the cornerstones of what the holidays are all about. This year, more than ever, it’s up to each of us to demonstrate these values by reaching out to support others in our community.