One in five New Brunswickers suffer from food insecurity
A new report says New Brunswick had the highest rate of household food insecurity in Atlantic Canada last year.
The study by PROOF, a research program from the University of Toronto, indicates that 19% of residents of New Brunswick households are concerned about access to food between 2020 and 2021.
Newfoundland and Labrador had the second highest rate of food insecurity in the region at 17.9% of households.
Nova Scotia had a food insecurity rate of 17.7%, with 15.3% of households in Prince Edward Island.
The report found that 15.9% of households in 10 provinces were experiencing food insecurity, totaling around 5.8 million people, including 1.4 million children.
The province with the highest percentage of household food insecurity was Alberta (20.3%), with the lowest being Quebec (13.1%). The study did not include data on people living in the three territories or on Indigenous reserves, noting the “high vulnerability to food insecurity” in those areas.
Valerie Tarasuk, director of research in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto, says the range in provincial numbers shows the effectiveness of different policy approaches.
“Look at Quebec. They have more generous child benefits than anyone else in the country and their child benefits are indexed to inflation,” says Tarasuk. “They’ve been indexing their welfare programs to inflation for years and years. They steadily raised the minimum wage.
“I know some of this is happening in New Brunswick, but it’s more recent.
The report defines food insecurity as “insufficient or precarious access to food due to financial constraints”. He notes that the experience can range “from fear of running out of food before there is money to buy more, to being unable to afford a balanced diet, to hunger, to lack meals and, in extreme cases, not eating for days on end due to a lack of food and money for food.
The report’s research does not take into account historical inflation rates recorded so far this year.
“For me, the big worry will be an increase in severe food insecurity,” says Tarasuk. “I think that’s very likely to happen with these price increases.”
SUMMER INCREASE IN NB FOOD BANKS USE
New Brunswick food banks are also reporting a marked increase in client numbers this summer.
“What really scares me is that everything is already doubling and we haven’t even hit winter yet,” says Monica Grant of the Valley Food Bank in Woodstock, New Brunswick. your electricity bills.
“This morning I got four phone calls from people who are brand new.”
Donna Linton, food bank coordinator in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, says circumstances led her to focus on providing food for people without a stove.
“We have a traditional laundry hamper that will go in a house that has a full-size fridge and stove,” Linton explains. “We have the motel bags, for a mini fridge and microwave. And then we have travel bags. And they’re basically things that people can eat on the go, they don’t require any type of cooking or can opener.