Nobody should have to pay $28 for a head of lettuce anywhere — let alone in Canada.
That’s the belief that drives Jennifer Gwilliam, who spends her days organizing food care packages for people she’s never met. But she’s not even sending aid to a Third World country; she’s sending it to Canada’s remote north.
“It was just shocking to see the prices they were paying for a head of cabbage or a flat of water,” Gwilliam told The Huffington Post B.C. “I was just appalled. It’s hard enough to make ends meet down here, let alone with those sort of prices. So I wanted to do something.”
After doing some digging, Gwilliam came across the Facebook group Feeding My Family, designed to raise awareness about the northern crisis and advocate for change. But she wanted to turn outrage into action, so she started her own Facebook group, Helping Our Northern Neighbours, last summer.
Gwilliam’s group matches people who want to donate packages of food and other necessities with those in the north who need it most.
People can either donate one box once, or choose to sponsor a family, meaning they regularly send care packages. There are no restrictions on what people can give, although many cater their boxes to the family they’ve been matched with.
There are over 400 names on Gwilliam’s list of people seeking assistance; just under half have received help in some way so far. She said many of donors (from across Canada) are living paycheque to paycheque themselves, but that doesn’t stop them from giving back. And everyone seems truly grateful for the help.
Candy Ivalutanar, who lives in Repulse Bay, Nunavut with her husband and two daughters under 10, said she cried the first time she received a care package.
“I told my husband, ‘I thought I wasn’t going to get anything. I thought nobody would want to ever help us.’ It touched me so much,” Ivalutanar told HuffPost B.C. She frequently tells her sponsor, who has sent a few boxes already, that she loves her.
“I love her for helping me so much,” she said. “Even if it’s just a little, I don’t care — that’s a lot for me.”
A common fat-phobic belief is that fat people are fat because they overeat. A recent submission to @facebooksexism perfectly illustrates this stereotype and the harmful classist attitudes it perpetuates:
Like most fat-phobic beliefs, this stereotype is completely wrong.
It is well accepted in public health science that food insecurity – which is the lack of consistent, dependable access to enough food for active, healthy living – predicts higher body weight.
Limited resources and lack of access to nutritious, affordable foods. Heavily processed, low-nutrition foods are usually cheaper, but are more calorie dense and less satisfying to eat.
Cycles of food deprivation and overeating. Low income people often run out of money for necessities like food before their next paycheck arrives, resulting in extended periods of hunger and starvation followed by periods of compensatory eating when the paycheck arrives. Such eating patterns cause weight gain over time.
High levels of stress, anxiety, & depression, all of which cause physiological changes resulting in weight gain over time.
Limited access to health care. Many chronic health conditions, like polycystic ovarian syndrome, thyroid dysfunction, and type II diabetes, cause weight gain when left untreated.
All of this means that systematic oppression causes people to be fat for reasons that are outside of their personal control, and that poor fat people are not lying when they report that they cannot afford to put food on the table. Stop spreading the harmful, oppressive, and fat-phobic belief that you can
judge a person’s nutrition or eating habits by the size of their body.
Last week, Amanda Keown received a call from her son, Dominic at school saying he couldn’t receive lunch because of an outstanding ($4.95 balance) owed on his lunch account, not only was he denied, the school publicly posted his name, and the names of other students with outstanding balances, in the cafeteria for all to see. Amanda went up to the school and paid off her sons balance as well as the rest of the students with outstanding balances.
While what Amanda did is a commendable deed, there’s a much larger issue here, and I’d like to use this as a teachable moment on the issues of hunger, food justice, food insecurity and food waste.
Do we realize, as a nation, how REAL food insecurity is in America? I know we realize it in other countries, but we need to understand the impact here, at home!
1 in 5 american children suffer from hunger. In 2012, 49 million people in the U.S. lived in households struggling to find enough food to eat, nearly 16 million in those households were children. Children are less likely to have access to sufficient food than adults are because they don’t have the same access to money as we do, this makes school lunches so important, because they are a primary source of food for MANY children in America. So when children go to school expecting to eat and are denied lunch, that could mean going without food for an entire day. No child school go without food at school, EVER.
Not only did they not let him eat, they THREW HIS FOOD AWAY. This is not the 1st time that a school has denied a child lunch and/or thrown the lunch away. In April, a middle school in Massachusetts refused to feed & threw away the lunches of 25 students who missed payments. A survey of Minnesota public schools in February found that 94% of districts in 2013 deprived kids of food in some way for not having enough money.
We can’t expect our nations kids to perform well in schools when they’re being denied the only source of nutrition they receive throughout the day. And hunger has REAL implications. I’m an adult and I cant concentrate when I’m hungry, so I can only imagine how that feeling is magnified for a child that’s hungry in school. How can our kids be great when our school systems say a $4.95 outstanding food balance means more to them than the sound of hunger echoing in their students stomachs. And don’t get me wrong, the school lunches are not the greatest, but when it’s your ONLY source of food/nutrition, it’s a necessity!
Some Latinx-American issues that are not discussed enough
A rapidly increasing number of hate crimes against Latinxs. From 2011 to 2012, the number of attacks reported increased more than threefold (x).
Racial profiling from law enforcement officers, which leads to a variety of other problems. Latinxs are 2.5 more likely to be issued a ticket, 1.5 times more likely to be arrested, and 20% more likely to have their vehicles searched for contraband although deputies are 85% less likely to find drugs than in vehicles driven by those of other ethnic groups (x).
Widespread police killings and brutality against Latinxs. Latinxs accounted for the second highest police-induced fatality rate in 2015 behind African Americans (x). These incidents become more common in heavily Latinx areas. For example, of the 23 people fatally shot in Los Angeles County from January to July 2015, 14 were Latinos (x).
Judicial bias has led to harsher and longer sentencing for young Latino males. Contributing to this situation, Latinx people are less likely to have the financial means for a private attorney; thus resulting in higher incarceration rates (x). A Latino male on trial has a 17% chance of serving prison time while a white male only has 6% (x).
Presidential candidate Donald Trump launched his campaign by denouncing Mexicans as “criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.” and suggested building a wall on the US-Mexico border paid by the government of Mexico. If Mexico were not to comply, all remittances sent to the country would be blocked (x). In August 2015, two white men that identified as Trump supporters beat a 58-year-old homeless Latino man with a metal pole and then urinated on him. Trump responded by saying his supporters are “very passionate” (x).
Under the Barrack Obama administration, the number of deportations have grown rampantly. The US is removing immigrants at nine times the rate of 20 years ago with over 2.8 million people having been deported since Obama took office, easily making him the president with the highest number of deportations (x)(x)(x)(x). Deportation of non-criminal immigrants still accounts for the majority of all removals as well (x).
Medical repatriation allows hospitals to put undocumented patients, often unconscious, on flights back to their home countries. This is done to avoid the costs of keeping patients with uncertain financial means
(x). Over 800 cases were found from 2006 to 2012 (x).
Arizona SB 1070 remains law in the state of Arizona as of 2010. The law requires aliens staying in the US longer than 30 days to register with the US government, carry documentation at all times if not be charged a misdemeanor crime, reserves the right for state law enforcement to stop or arrest suspected illegal immigrants, and imposed penalties on those sheltering, hiring or transporting illegal immigrants. These provisions were upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court and inspired a number of similar bills in other states (x)(x).
Arizona also banned ethnic studies in public schools. They are considered to be “un-American” (x).
Legislative proposals have been made to strip US-born children of immigrant parents of their birthright citizenship (x). A number of politicians have expressed support for this, including Trump (x).
Underrepresentation in political office at both federal and state levels (x). There are currently 28 Hispanics in the House of Representatives and 3 in the Senate despite the fact that Hispanics are the largest minority group in the US and account for an estimated 18% of the population (x).
Lack of representation in mainstream media. Since 2006, only five Latinx or Latinx-descendant artists have reached number one on the Hot 100 as a lead act. Latinxs are also the most underrepresented ethnic group in television, film, and even fewer exist in top media positions (x)(x).
Erasure of Afro-Latinxs in the media and a lack of understanding for the identity. Afro-Latinxs also face additional racism from within the Latin community (x)(x).
The gender wage gap affects Latina women most severely. On average, Latinas earn 55 cents for every dollar a white, non-Hispanic man makes. In some states, this ranges from 43 to 59 cents, thus making Latinas the most underpaid group in the US (x).
Human and sex trafficking. Hispanics account for the vast majority of labor trafficking victims in the US, with over 55% of all victims being Hispanic. Additionally, over 23% of sex trafficking victims are Hispanic (x).
Latinx households experience disproportionate levels of poverty and have lower household income than non-Hispanic whites. The median income for a Hispanic household is $42,491, whereas the median for a non-Hispanic white household is $60,256.
Poverty rates for Hispanics are at 24%, more than double the 10% of non-Hispanic whites. Ten percent of all Latinos live deep in poverty as well, compared to the national average of 7% (x).
Latinx households are more than twice as likely to be food insecure as non-Hispanic, white households. More than 1 in 4 Latinx children live in food insecure households (x).
Hispanics have consistently had the highest high school dropout rates by ethnic group since 1990 or before (x). A lack of financial resources, inadequate school resources, and parents’ limited knowledge of the US public school system have contributed to this (x).
Undocumented high-school graduates have less access to higher education. In all states, undocumented students are ineligible for financial aid from the federal government. Most states require undocumented students to pay out-of-state or international rates to attend colleges or universities in their home states, thus resulting in highly exorbitant costs and blocking many from higher education. In Georgia and other states, undocumented students are banned from enrolling in some public colleges or universities altogether (x).
According to a Pew Research Center, Latinx people are the 2nd most discriminated against ethnic group after African-Americans. An estimated 22% of Hispanic/Latinx workers reported experiencing workplace discrimination (x). Meanwhile, 58% of Latinx people agree that racism is a prevailing issue (x).
It’s been nearly 400 years since the Wampanoag people encountered the starving, cold pilgrims in Plymouth Bay. With an already thriving agricultural model in fertile Massachusetts, the Indigenous tribe taught the uneducated British settlers how to cultivate their own food, eventually culminating in a three-day-long shared meal celebrating the harvest — and securing the future of colonial expansion in the United States.
Undoubtedly many of these white, rural, conservative constituents are the same voters who are worried about fictional “black welfare queens” but who are unaware that, numerically and proportionally, there are more white people on Food Stamps. This is easily one of the best examples of intentional structural racism and the simultaneous white privilege denial that accompanies it.
(read the full MotherJones post here, related Melissa Harris Perry quote on how government assistance becomes racialized in America here)
Have you noticed that NBC’s Hannibal Lecter cooks everything in huge excess? Like, he’s literally hosting just Will and Alana for dinner, and he rolls out an entire roast pig with all the trimmings? Or it’s just him and Jack, but there’s like 10,000 calories in pricey perishables on the table?
Clearly, someone overshopped.
I don’t know if this is an intended character trait or a stylistic choice, but it hits on something that almost every emigrant to the West from USSR (and I’m sure tons of other countries around the world) can readily relate to: bone-deep food insecurity. Hannibal Lecter, who presumably made it out of USSR sometime in the late 70s-early 80s, seems to have never got over his original shock of facing a sudden over-abundance and variety of food in the West.
It sometimes takes emigrants years to un-learn instinctive food hoarding, and not everyone manages. This goes double for orphans, who tend to suffer from this compulsion even within Russia after they ‘graduate’ from the system and are able to plan their meals themselves. This behavior is especially noticeable with respect to meat, which was not sold very often in Soviet stores, and the cuts that were available were often, to put it mildly, substandard. (One popular joke went that Soviet pig farms probably slaughter their pigs with explosives, because the only things that made it to the stores were hooves.)
And let’s not forget fresh fruit. First of all, fruit was seasonal. You bought fruit in late summer and early fall, preserved it, and ate it through the winter. (In the spring everyone, especially kids, suffered from vitamin deficiencies, and this was a fact of life one just accepted.) But let’s take more exotic fruit - for instance, bananas. If bananas appeared in a Soviet grocery store, which would happen once or twice every spring in a few grocery stores of Moscow and Leningrad, each customer was limited to one or two kilos. You would literally stand in line for 3 or 4 or 5 hours to get five or ten rock-hard green bananas. And you would be over the moon with joy.
And so it’s very easy for me to imagine Lecter, even with all the privations of life in a state-run Soviet institution (a double-whammy of poor nutrition) decades behind him, *still* instinctively over-shopping for things that he never got to so much as sniff as a child: meat, fresh fruit, seafood, caviar - all the stuff he heaps on the table in such huge quantities for his friends.
Lecter might wear bespoke suits and drive a Bentley that costs more than most houses, but deep down in his bones, he’s still in 'food crisis’ mode, terrified that all these pomegranates, caviar, and steak are only in the store through some kind of unexpected laxness or largesse on behalf of the ruling Party, and if he doesn’t buy as much as he can today, they’ll be gone from the store tomorrow, and he’ll be left with nothing.
Ben Canning plucked a green leaf from a young kale plant and carefully placed it in a clear plastic bag.
After nearly three years of work, the 21-year-old Ryerson University student was harvesting the first crop from an innovative greenhouse built right on the Arctic Circle, an igloo-shaped structure he hopes will be the first of many in northern communities.
“The goal is to reduce the cost of fresh food,” he said. “For me, it’s a bit of a personal mission.”
Canning founded a group called Growing North, which worked with the community in Naujaat, Nunavut, to build the greenhouse. Donors covered the $150,000 cost.
“I grew up in southern Ontario on a farm,” said Canning. “As a kid growing up, I thought everybody had access to fresh food. When I grew up, I found it was not the case.”
In many northern communities, aside from locally caught fish and game, fresh food has to be flown in at great expense.
A study from the Nunavut Bureau of Statistics last year found that in general, Nunavummiut can expect to pay around twice as much as other Canadians for the same food items.
“Carrots had the highest price ratio difference,” the study concluded. “The cost was 3.1 times greater than the average price of Canada.”
It’s a difference that can break budgets.
Joanna and Simonie Kopak live in Naujaat with their three children. The amount they pay for freshly grown produce would shock most city dwellers.
“Maybe $140 to $160 a month,” Simonie said. “For a very small amount of vegetables and fruit.”
It’s especially difficult for parents to justify the cost when children in the North, like children everywhere, often aren’t interested in eating their greens.
“They are too expensive to buy them all the time,” Joanna said.
The greenhouse in Naujaat is trying to change that. The plan is to grow food at half the cost of imports.
In a city of wealth, 1.4 million people rely on a network of 1,000 food pantries and soup kitchens to eat. That’s an increase of 200,000 people in five years, and the city’s programs are struggling to keep up with that need.
A total of 1.8 million New Yorkers receive food stamps. Yet, with so many people in need, the biggest benefit reduction in the 50-year history of food stamps took effect Nov. 1.
Nearly 50% of pantries and soup kitchens ran out of food in November when Food Stamps was cut, and an additional 25% had to move to smaller rations.
The two biggest, City Harvest and the Food Bank for New York City, now provide nearly 110 million pounds of food annually throughout the five boroughs.
How To Find Food Aid In Your Area:
If you or your child/sibling/friend is under the age of 18, you can participate in the Summer Meal Program. From June 27th to August 29th, hundreds of public schools, libraries, housing complexes and other locations are providing free breakfast and lunch to all children 18 years old and under. Find out participating locations near you.
I only recently stopped buying foods for my 8-year-old daughter that list ingredients I don’t recognize. For half of her life, when I went shopping, I gravitated to the foods I knew for certain she’d gobble up.
When I was in my last semesters of college, legislation in my state changed so that any adult, full-time student receiving food stamps also had to meet a work requirement of 20 hours a week. When that cut went into effect, I couldn’t fulfill the work requirement, and my daughter’s diet dropped to the point where it consisted of packaged crackers with some kind of cheese sandwiched between them, pancakes and mac ‘n’ cheese. We received some juice and cheese sticks from our Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, coupons, and I bought fruit like apples and oranges at the beginning of the month.
It was a real “so it has come to this” time in my parenting. I remained thankful that she ate what I put in front of her. I couldn’t afford waste. My stress over her not finishing her food only perpetuated her pickiness. She didn’t want to try new things for fear she wouldn’t like it and it would go to waste.
THIS IS AMERICA! ONE OF THE MOST PROSPEROUS COUNTRIES ON EARTH WITH MORE FARMLAND THAN WE KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH AND A FULLY-WORKING DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM THAT COULD FEED EVERY CHILD IN THIS COUNTRY EVERY DAY. WHAT ARE WE DOING PEOPLE???
With sky-high grocery prices and increasing costs associated with hunting, it’s not uncommon to hear stories of Nunavummiut concerned about their next meal. There are even accounts of people foraging in local landfills for food. Consider this: two litres of orange juice can cost $26. 5 kilograms of flour? $25. And a case of bottled water can be over $100. To put that into context, the median income for the Inuit in Nunavut was just under $20,000 last year.
It costs a lot to transport food to northern communities which is a big factor in grocery store prices. In 2011, the Conservative Government brought in the Nutrition North program to help offset these costs. Retailers are subsidized and are expected to pass on the savings to consumers. But last year, the Auditor General released a critical reportoutlining issues with the program including a lack of transparency, it wasn’t clear if the savings were actually being passed on to residents.
Putting food on the table has become a big election issue in Nunvaut. We asked the federal candidates to weigh in:
The Sylvia Rivera Food Pantry Helping New Yorkers Suffering From Food Insecurity & Those Living With HIV/AIDS
The Sylvia Rivera Food Pantry meets the nutritional needs of a diverse group of low-income, working poor and HIV+ individuals and families in an environment of respect and confidentiality. Last year, The Sylvia Rivera Food Pantry served over 170,000 pounds of food and offered thousands of referrals to culturally-competent community partners.
Their client-choice model allows guests to select their own groceries, thus eliminating food waste and putting choice back in the hands of those receiving food. Snack bags of nutritious food are available to all, four days a week. A specialized pantry program for those living with HIV/AIDS offers high-protein, easy to prepare groceries that complement anti-retroviral therapy. On Thursday mornings, the Sylvia Rivera Food Pantry is open to all, providing assistance in English, Spanish and Mandarin.
The Sylvia Rivera Food Pantry has turned grocery distribution into an ongoing opportunity for nutrition education and benefits outreach. They provide information in multiple languages to clients for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and guide them toward moving beyond the food pantry. The partnership has also resulted in dozens of clients filing their New York State Earned Income Tax Credit. In addition, a partnership with the Chelsea CSA enables them to provide fresh, organic produce for our customers each week.
Client-Choice Pantry Distribution (open to all): Thursday 9 a.m. –10 a.m.
Snack Bag Distribution (open to all): Tuesday – Friday, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.
I’m sick and tired of poor people being demonized. I’m sick and tired of their struggle being belittled. We’re here to represent all people — including those struggling in poverty….
I was taught to love my neighbor. I was taught to care about people and to strive to make everyone’s life better. And what is being treated as political dialogue violates those teachings and my core beliefs in humanity. We can all do better. Some of us may need a hand up in order to get by, but that doesn’t mean that they are lesser people for it. They deserve our respect—and they deserve our help while they are struggling.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) in an “End Hunger Now” speech given this week, responding to recent remarks denigrating recipients of SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps). via Bread Blog