Are you getting enough?

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Vegetables and Fruit are the largest part in Canada’s Food Guide rainbow, which make these the most important foods to include for a healthy diet. This is probably why you’re familiar with the advertisements that advocate to eat five to 10 servings of vegetables and fruit each day. The campaign works to educate people on the importance of eating a good supply and variety of vegetables and fruit to reduce risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and stroke. But do you know if you’re getting enough? If you’re not sure, go to Canada’s Food Guide website to build your food guide and make sure you’re getting enough.

Doing the exercise to build a food guide is easy; it takes about seven minutes to check off all sorts of foods that you may typically have at home. However these check marks don’t have any way to fill your stomach. Transforming this food guide into an actual diet is the real challenge. It’s especially challenging for people on fixed (or low) incomes because they often lack the money to keep their fridge full of fresh vegetables and fruits on a regular basis.

Our program is able to help approximately 19 000 people who often lack enough money to buy foods like vegetables and fruits every year. This is all thanks to our cooler that is approximately 135 square feet or 1080 cubic feet. To give you a better idea of how big that is: most household fridges hold about 18 to 26 cubic feet. So we’ve got over 40 fridges worth of space to hold many of the donations we receive. Only a small number of emergency food programs have the facilities to handle perishable donations.

“Fruits and vegetables are helpful to get here because they’re really expensive…my kids can go through a bag of apples in a day.” – Father of 3 children, 20s

“(Without fruit I feel) like there is a gap in my body and I have less energy.” – Single female, 20s

“It’s nice you have veggies…It’s a priority in my diet, and this program always seems to have lots.” – Single male, 30s

“I feel like I have a terribly incomplete diet when I have to rely on soup and bread. Though I’m full I’m not content…Fruit is just great! You can treat it as a dessert or put it in a salad to make it more tasty.” – Single woman, 50s

And as you can see from the quotes above, we need all the space we can get to handle as many donations as possible. Buying fresh vegetables and fruit is difficult on a limited budget as these foods may spoil or run out before you have money to re-stock your fridge. Therefore patrons are often forced purchase more non-perishable foods to help their groceries last until their next paycheck or the end of the month. These foods are typically cheaper, but relying on these sources make it difficult for patrons to get enough vegetables and fruit that are needed in their diet. Instead they’re stuck eating canned foods full of sugar and salt to fill their stomachs and save a small amount of money.

“My husband was paying child support but has now lost his job; so now it makes it harder for me to make it through the month. Today at lunch we picked through the fridge and freezer for food; whether it went together or not – we just ate it since it’s all we had.” – Single mother of 3, 30s

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