Posts Tagged ‘food skills’

“Poor People Can’t Cook,” and Other Myths

July 22, 2014

In 2013, over 47 million Americans depended on food stamps to buy their groceries. Those food stamps turn out to be worth about $5 or $6 per day, per person.

Not a lot to live on—but better than nothing?

Canada does not have a food stamp program. Canada does not have a national school breakfast or lunch (or supper or brunch or snack) program. We are one of the few “First World” countries without a formal, national nutrition assistance program. Non-governmental strategic policy papers exist, but as such papers typically do, they promote particular interests and agendas.

Why not food stamps?

The view from Canada is that we don’t need specific nutritional programs because our social assistance programs are good enough. Instead of funding food stamps, or school lunches, we give families money–through Ontario Works (OW) or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)—and let them make their own food and other choices. This could be a more dignified, less paternalistic way to support individuals real freedom—and opportunities—to choose how they want to live.

Now, if our social assistance programs were empowering, i.e. established some equality of opportunity, we wouldn’t see poor health outcomes clustering around particular demographics. It’s true that we start with different abilities and inclinations, and so even in a system of equal opportunities we wouldn’t see equal outcomes. But when certain groups consistently and predictably fall below average on basic measures like health, or food security, or educational attainment, we can and should conclude that those groups face additional obstacles, or less-than-equal opportunities.

And we should do something about it. (more…)

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Have you heard this before?

July 15, 2010

In response to our post about food skills and the question “have you heard this before?” Linda of the Sunnydale Community Centre (formerly of Live and Learn) had the following to say:

“Yes, I have heard this and it has often led to some good conversation and hopefully, some education.

People who live on a limited income and have had the opportunity to learn about nutrition and food preparation either at school or at home, tend to use this knowledge and these skills to prepare and provide meals for their families.  They face the additional challenge, while living on a limited income, of providing and preparing nutritious meals on a limited budget.  They also know and struggle when they are not able to provide the nutrition they would like to provide.

Other people who live on a limited income and have not had the opportunity to learn about nutrition and food preparation often provide food for their families as it was provided for them when they were growing up.  The Live and Learn program, Community Nutrition Workers in the community centres and Community Kitchens, all work to address this.  It is my experience that the majority of individuals who are given an opportunity to learn about nutrition and food preparation are very excited to do this and then work to prepare and provide healthy meals for their families.  I can easily recall hearing multiple Live and Learn women ask the difference between tablespoons and teaspoons, questioning whether it’s safe to cook your own food, or commenting that they’d never used anything other than a can opener to make a meal.

It’s simply a matter of opportunities – for education, for experience and for adequate food.   I’ve met very few people who would turn any of these things down.”

If only they knew…

June 25, 2010

“If people only knew how to cook, then a lot of them wouldn’t need to come to the food bank, they’d be able to get by on their limited budget – food is cheap…some people on welfare don’t even know how to boil water!”

Believe it or not, this is a common sentiment expressed by people when I’m talking to them about the many people who struggle to put food on their table each day.  People have said all of the above to me at many points in my travels.

There is a widespread belief that a lot of the problems low income people face each day are of their own creation.  Education is held up as one of the big solutions to their problems. This is partly true for many people, and on a certain level it makes sort of sense in general terms. However, as with many articles of “common sense”, there is fiction mixed in with a few grains of truth. (more…)