Posts Tagged ‘Canada’s Food Guide’

Child nutrition in Canada: poverty, health and well-being

July 17, 2012

A few weeks ago Nadir was talking to a woman at intake that had brought her daughter with her to pick up a hamper. Nadir asked the girl, “no school today?” The mother responded that she didn’t have a lunch to send with her daughter to school, so she kept her at home instead. Unfortunately, this is not an unusual statement for us to hear at intake.  Faced with the option of having her daughter go to school hungry—where her child might face social isolation from her peers, and her teacher might contact Family and Children’s Services—or not sending her at all, the mother had to make a choice. Like many Canadian families, this mother probably had to choose between sending her child to school with a nutritious and school appropriate lunch and being able to pay her rent for the month. For the child growing up in poverty, this decision will have a long term effect on their education, health, and probably their social well-being.

The extent of child poverty in Canada was outlined in a recent report by UNICEF (which can be found here), called “measuring child poverty:  new league tables of child poverty in the world’s richest countries.” The report ranked the wealthiest countries in the world according to how many children were in relative poverty. According to UNICEF, a child is living in relative poverty when they are living in a household where disposable income is less than 50% of the median disposable income for the country. By this criteria, 13.3% of Canadian children are living in relative poverty. What’s more, as this article explains, though the federal government once pledged to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000, now, 12 years after that milestone has passed, there is still no national definition of child poverty or concrete strategies at a national level to reduce it. Though it is hard to know for certain how many children are poor because there are competing definitions of poverty and different ways to measure it, we do know that of the approximately 851 000 Canadians who visited food banks in 2011, over one third of them were children (see this infographic for more information from food banks and yearly report cards on child poverty here from Campaign 2000).

(more…)

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Home Economics 101: Waterloo Edition – What does a healthy diet cost?

February 3, 2012

It’s no surprise how quickly a grocery bill can add up throughout the month after you buy fresh produce, school snacks, meat, milk, and all the other foods you need. But do you have any idea how much money someone typically spends to feed the average family in Waterloo Region a healthy diet? … Give up? Well keep reading and you’ll find out!

Back in September The Region of Waterloo released their annual “Cost of the Nutritious Food Basket” report, which provides an estimate on the overall cost for a household to eat a healthy diet. The estimates of this report are based on average food prices from various grocery stores throughout the community, based on the dietary recommendations from Canada’s Food Guide for specific ages and genders, the number of people in the household and reflective on eating patterns of the community. (more…)

Can you ever have too much rice?

November 7, 2011

Feed a dream

Before we know it the sky will fill with lovely snow flakes and the days will become colder here in Ontario. While there are many opportunities to get outside in the winter and stay fit, many people tend to spend a little more time indoors.  So what can you do, while your inside, staying warm and counting the days until it’s spring time?

Well I’m here to tell you about a fun and educational way to spend some of your spare time – especially if your household includes some school age children who want to test and expand their knowledge. To see what I’m talking about, click here.  It’s an online game with a twist.  Instead of getting points and being able to boast about your high score, each correct answer makes a little difference to someone somewhere in the world, ten grains of rice at a time.

Isn’t this great? For each correct answer you make to questions in a wide variety of subjects a little bit of rice will be donated to the World Food Program. It may seem like such a small amount but it all adds up and it’s free!  This is all thanks to the group who created FreeRice, a non-profit website now run by the United Nations World Food Programme.

But how can a non-profit website buy enough rice to donate 10 grains for each question you answer right? All the rice that you win through the game is paid for by sponsors whose advertisement banners will appear at the bottom of the screen when you enter a question correctly. Each of these sponsors also supports the goals of promoting learning or free education for everyone, and reducing hunger throughout the world.

FreeRice tries to provide more rice to countries that typically include this as a staple item in their diet. On average these countries typically receive approximately 400 grams of rice person, per day (for families, including children and adults). Generally the goal of each donation is to provide people with two meals, with the assumption they’ll also include other local ingredients, in the aim to achieve 2100 kilocalories of daily nutrition. 

By answering 600 questions correctly you donate one serving (according to Canada’s Food Guide) of a ½ cup of rice to someone in need. Although it seems like a lot of questions, you’ll rack of the number of grains you donate quickly!

If you are a part of a service club, or church, or have a circle of friends who like to do things together, you can all register as a group and compete with other groups and track the total amount of donations you have generated.

“Making the world a better place starts with food. Food fuels education. Food fuels free choice. Food fuels economic independence. Food fuels peace.” (Source)

So by playing the game you are helping do something about hunger in the world, but what about hunger in our community?  Currently rice is the fourth most needed food donation at the Food Bank of Waterloo Region. So please consider spending a few minutes to answer a couple of questions and the next time you are at the grocery store think of your neighbours in need and make a donation to the bin by the check out. (Click here to read one of our previous blog posts on what our patrons think about rice).

And in the end think of all the people who will be able to enjoy a meal or rice because of your efforts to test your knowledge.

Volunteer Spotlight: Zach

April 4, 2011

I’m here to share another fresh face in our volunteer pool: Zach. Zach began volunteering with us this year, in between searching for a job that will suit his interests after recently finishing his degree in Environment Engineering. Zach brings a lot of enthusiasm when he volunteers here by always being ready to pack a hamper, by lending a helping hand in the warehouse, or by getting to know other volunteers. So far it’s been great getting to casually chat with Zach in the break room, but today it’s his turn to shine in the spotlight. (more…)

You can help NOURISH people in need!

March 30, 2011

Have you seen this product in the news lately? Campbell’s has been making headlines with some new ideas in eating and charitable giving. If you haven’t heard about the new soup I encourage you to nourish your mind by clicking here.  It’s worth the click.  We can wait.

One reason this soup has yet to come to grocery stores is because Campbell’s has focused production of the first 100 000 cans to donate to Food Banks Canada. Then following this generosity Campbell’s is planning to follow-up with a donation towards disaster relief efforts in Haiti.

But why is this new soup such a big deal? Well not only does their pop-top designs make it easy for anyone (in any place) to open the can, but it’s nutritious! Each 425 gram can provides a complete meal with a full serving of protein, vegetables, and grains, based on recommendations by Canada’s Food Guide,. Two other benefits of this soup are that it can be eaten hot or cold, and doesn’t require any addition of water before enjoying.  This is a major plus if you’re on the street, just had your hydro shut off or living in a disaster area with no fresh water.

Could it get any better?  Yes! Although Campbell’s has already committed to donating 100 000 cans to Food Banks Canada, they are willing to do more. However Campbell’s is looking for your support to do that! There are two ways you can show your support to accomplish this:

  • Visit their Facebook page. On there if you post a comment; like the page or video posted; watch the 2 minute video; or share the video on your own facebook page then Campbell’s will reciprocate by donating one can to Food Banks Canada.
  • Post a comment on Twitter (hashtag #Nourish) for Campbell’s to donate a can.

Campbell’s is hoping the community responds so they can donate another 100 000 cans before Hunger Awareness Day on May 31, 2011. We’re hoping that you can take a few minutes to help them reach this goal. Soup is shelf-stable food item that many food banks rely on to distribute in their food hampers. Although it’s not on the Food Bank’s top ten most needed food items, it’s still an important item to continually donate.

Have you taken a second to click and share a can of soup with a neighbour in need?

Rotten egg award

March 25, 2011

In the last part of our three part series, today, I will talk about April, the ignoble winner of the (now) infamous Rotten Egg Award for 2010.

Unfortunately April is a bad time for our food hampers to fall below the overall averages because April is a tricky time of the year for many patrons. At this time many patrons are trying to catch up on debts that they have accumulated over the holidays or during periods of seasonal unemployment before their EI claims were processed. For others the fact that outdoor seasonal employment, such as landscaping or construction, aren’t in full swing yet hits hard because their part-time hours aren’t sufficient to pay all the bills. Also student (summer) placement jobs don’t generally begin until late June, despite the fact that many students are done their university semesters and their OSAP before this. Plus at some point in the month many families and individuals will be looking forward to the idea of eating a big meal and sharing gifts with young children, as a part of celebrating Easter with their families but lack the funds and ability to do so. Clearly there are many different reasons why this is a bad time for food assistance programs to be running short on supplies. But with 2 581 households in need of assistance, how bad were things? (more…)

Golden Egg Award

March 24, 2011

If you’ve already read Matt’s post you’ll understand what this award is for, otherwise click here. I’m here to shine the spotlight on the month where we were able to provide the best nutritional hampers overall in 2010 November! (more…)

On average things are looking up!

March 21, 2011

With 2010 behind us we’ve been able to put it on the scales and gain some knowledge of what happened last year. Some of the knowledge I specifically try to gather each year is about the nutritional value of our food hampers, which you might remember from a previous post. (If not, you can read it here.) So with this in mind, let’s begin looking at how our food averages changed from 2009 to 2010. (more…)

Where we go from here…

October 5, 2010

In a previous post, I provided information about the hamper audit, and statistics from the 2009 hampers – but how does that translate into our hampers each day and where do we go from here? First here’s a reminder of the 2009 overall averages for each food category and family size:

Grains Dairy Vegetables and Fruit Meat (and alternatives)
One person 5.4 2.3 9.2 5.6
Two people 3.7 2.0 5.8 4.3
Three people 3.8 1.9 6.3 3.1
Four people 3.3 1.8 5.7 2.8
These figures represent the average number of days a hamper in 2009 would last for each family size, based on the upper limit of the number of daily recommended servings for each food group from Canada’s Food Guide values.

Second, we’ll discuss each category in terms of the gaps and challenges we face in reaching our three to five-day goal of food. Then I will give some insight to the ‘tricks of the trade’ in boosting averages when possible and finally, I’ll wrap it all up with some food for thought. (more…)

Eating exercise: Old Mother Hubbard NOW has food in her cupboard

May 28, 2010

Some of you may remember the photo essays from March and early April where we outlined an example hamper for various family sizes that were served by our program in October and November 2009. These essays discussed various aspects such as how our program operates and unusual foods in our waiting area, large donations of food that our program was able to distribute, baby items we are able to provide, and a special diet need to accommodate.

This blog is a twist on the idea of a photo essay. The essays provided an overall glimpse of the types and amounts of food available in a hamper, and a brief story on a family it was given to. However this blog is an eating exercise challenge! Below is a descriptive list of all the food items a single person could have received in a hamper on May 17th.

– One can of vegetable soup
– One loaf of white bread (not sliced)
– Box of instant oatmeal (8 packages)
– Two boxes of macaroni and cheese
– Box of wheat thin crackers (250 grams)
– One cup (100 mL) of yogurt
– One liter of goats milk (your choice of white or chocolate)
– Five pounds of potatoes (approximately 15 potatoes)
– One head of lettuce
– One cob of corn
– Head of broccoli
– Bag of (5) plums
– One can of salmon
– Bag of (5) sausages
– Bag of pretzels
– Single pepperette
– Bag of chocolate chip cookies
– 300 mL orange juice
– Banana pudding mix
– Head of celery

The challenge or “eating exercise” is to take a few minutes to envision that this is all the food you have available at home for the next few days. Think of how you might be able to stretch this hamper out in snacks and meals. Also try to keep in mind all the foods that you may regularly purchase or like to have available at home and are missing; or some of the cooking challenges you may encounter such as not having butter to cook with.

When I did the exercise I envisioned that I’d be able to get three days of snacks and meals from this hamper. However I had to be creative and plan things out carefully. I made a few revisions through planning to help make things last as long as possible. Planning out how to use this hamper is easy for me because I took the time to think about it, which I don’t envision a lot of our patrons may often do. Their lives are full of many other issues that demand their time, energy and attention such as searching for employment opportunities, dealing with medical issues, multiple appointments with caseworkers or other professionals, and many other time-consuming issues. So I can understand that having the time or energy to think about planning out a hamper may not always be feasible. However I feel like if I hadn’t made planning my hamper a priority, I believe I would struggle to find enough snacks and meals to keep me going.

Planning the meal list was easy though – for me the real challenge in this exercise was trying to accept the fact that I would be eating foods that I typically don’t eat or purchase like salmon, plums and broccoli. Though I’m not against eating these foods; I think it would be hard for me to feel satisfied after eating when I didn’t have much of a choice in the foods I had. From there I’d probably feel less motivated and energetic for all the things I need to do throughout the day.  I think this would then make overcoming the reasons that brought me to get a hamper more difficult than I could have ever originally imagined.

How many days of food do you see in this hamper? Leave a comment and let us know!