A Circular Season: Food Security and the Holidays

Doug MacMillan • 18 December 2021

The holidays are a season for giving – they always have been. But it seems with the rise of social media, online shopping, and an overwhelming sense of materialism that currently surrounds the holidays, we forget that “giving” doesn’t have to be express shipped in 2-3 business days.

There are plenty of ways to give this holiday season that will support individuals and families in our community who are living with food insecurity.

What is food insecurity? As defined by Ontario Dietitians in Public Health, food insecurity, also called household food insecurity, is not having enough money to buy food. Individuals and families living on low incomes struggle to pay the rent, other basic living costs (such as utilities, phone, childcare, clothing, medication, transportation) and food.

Food insecurity can look different to any family or individual. It may be the persistent physical lack of food or meals, inability to access nutritious food because of lack of transportation or an inability to leave home, a family knowing their food supply will run out before they have the funds to replenish it, or even the worry of wondering where a next meal will come from.

Further compounding this is the escalating cost of food, which is predicted to increase five to seven per cent next year according to Canada’s Food Price Report 2022.  This represents the largest annual jump in the 12 years the Report has been published. For many households, this represents hundreds of dollars they do not have.

However it affects people, food insecurity is an urgent issue sweeping communities, and according to a local survey by Our Food Future’s program partners, it has become more persistent due to COVID-19. But even before the pandemic, the problem persisted: people in our community do not have access to the nutritious food they need to thrive. In 2017-18, 1 in 8 households in Canada was food insecure, amounting to 4.4 million people, including more than 1.2 million children.

In Guelph-Wellington, many organizations are taking innovative steps to address to address food insecurity. We’re proud to work with 10C to spearhead the Harvest Impact initiative, a social finance fundraising mechanism that is exploring the continuum of social investing - from philanthropy to investing. By directing community donations towards programs that are on the frontline of food security solutions, the fund is addressing urgent needs while driving permanent change to address systemic issues that affect food security.

When you’re looking at your wish lists and the wish lists of others this holiday season and you see the iPads, the purses, and the toys, ask yourself – what if the people you love were asking for rice, chicken breasts, and fresh produce? It would be an eye opener, surely.

Consider giving the gift of food to those people in our community who need our help. Donate to or volunteer at a local food related charity that is giving back to our community. A simple online search will present several ways to give a gift by giving back. Every contribution makes an important difference. When shopping for the holidays, consider purchasing extra non-perishable pantry items to give to food banks and community grocery pantries. Whatever way you decide to give this season, consider adding your community’s food needs to your shopping list.

To donate to the Harvest Impact Fund, click here.