Community Matters September 2023
Welcome to the Fall Edition of our quarterly publication, Community Matters.
Community Matters aims to inform the community about social issues that impact citizens and connect the dots between social issues, evidence, and policy. We aim to use this space to give local agencies, ESPC volunteer writers, and staff members a voice.
Each edition will spotlight a specific social issue and demonstrate the intersectional nature and impact on equality. Our goal is to use evidence as we continue to inform on the issues affecting individuals and families.
For our Fall 2023 issue, we are focusing on Food and Food Security. Food is one of the basic necessities of life – we all need it to stay alive and maintain a healthy lifestyle. In addition to physical health, the act of preparing and cooking food is a boost to one’s own mental health by increasing confidence, concentration, and happiness. Beyond that, food is also intertwined with culture and community. It is a way of expressing one’s culture and sharing it with others through familiar foods. Newcomer populations often stay connected to their culture by preparing and eating the foods they are accustomed to.
Nevertheless, our community faces great challenges when it comes to food. Food insecurity is rising across Canada, which is being felt acutely within Edmonton. Food banks in Edmonton and other communities across Alberta have all been seeing dramatic increases in food bank visits, as well as challenges in keeping up with the supply needed to serve their clients. Food banks were originally established to be a temporary measure to meet emergency needs, but the demand has not let up in the subsequent years.
This issue seeks to bring the reader up to speed on the situation we as a society are facing, and explores a number of policy options to address rising levels of food insecurity. Inside you will find explorations of school nutrition programs, food access among prison populations, the importance of adequate incomes, the role of community gardens, diet and food security amongst university students as well as dignified food access among newcomer populations.
We hope this issue will help guide conversations around food security and the solutions necessary to tackle this social problem.