Kevin Anderson

KAPUSKASING – “Food insecurity” is a relatively new term that has picked up a lot of buzz lately.

Household food insecurity is defined as the inadequate or insecure access to food due to financial constraints and it is said to affect as many as as 10 per cent of Canadians.

Locally, with approximately 200 people already using the Kapuskasing Food Bank regularly, that number translates to roughly 600 Model Towners, who don’t have enough nutritious food to eat because they can’t afford to purchase it.

The food insecure is often composed largely of seniors, those on a fixed or low income and in some cases students.

“Danielle Groulx from the Centre de santé called us about six months ago and asked to have a meeting and asked us to help them figure out a way to help the ‘food insecure’,” said food bank rep Rick Bartlett. “Together we’ve since put together a committee to set about finding solutions.”

The local committee comprised of local stakeholders (Centre de santé, Food Bank, Rotary, Caisse Populaire, Aboriginal services (KIFC and Kunuwanimano), child and family services, housing services, mental health services, advertising services and community volunteers), is trying to come up with a solution to help ensure all Kapuskasing and area residents have enough nutritious sustenance.

The committee’s objective for the 2019 include: More community consultations to identify needs, increasing access to existing services, identify barriers to accessing services, increasing access to healthy food, offering information sessions and workshops on healthy food choices, educating residents in order to reduce the stigma associated with accessing Food Banks, encouraging client engagement and engaging students and seniors towards volunteer opportunities.

To that end, the coalition has approached every senior’s facility in Kapuskasing and every town council in the area to introduce the idea of “food insecurity” and encourage the idea of these people coming to the food bank.

“Because the food bank has a stigma of people who use it being ‘beggars’, a lot of seniors weren’t interested,” said Bartlett. “The other problem, is that we weren’t able to reach everybody, because many of the people who would benefit from the service don’t go out very much and didn’t come to the presentation in their building. We’re hoping the ones who did come will spread the word.”

Several avenues to help those with food insecurity have been proposed, varying from personal visits with potential clients with photos of the inventory of the food bank to see if they need anything, to opening the food bank once per week for seniors only, to approaching schools to see if they can help us identify “food insecure” students and families.

“Some families have parents, who work hard might only be getting paid minimum wage, which can make it difficult to put three nutritious meals per day on the table,” said Bartlett. “We want them to know the food bank is there to help them to do that.”

Those who know of someone who could use help in this instance are encouraged to contact Danielle Groulx: 705-371-3006.