Let’s make sure no one is left behind in this time of crisis



Last week as Canada began to realize the magnitude of COVID-19’s reach, people across the country were already struggling to get by. According to the latest data from the PROOF centre for research on hunger, food insecurity — lack of access to food due to financial constraints — has risen, with 1 in 8 Canadians facing hunger. At the same time, certain groups are at even higher risk of food insecurity, with Indigenous and Black households being at least twice as likely to experience hunger.

The present crisis has highlighted many weak points in our food system. Food security organizations that were already stretched thin are now at a critical point. Thousands of workers in food service, production, and other parts of the food chain suddenly find their jobs disappearing. There is a growing realization that farmland should be prioritized for growing healthy and sustainable food for Canadians to eat, rather than commodities for export. And in every community, those already struggling to put food on the table are faced with an impossible task to feed their families, let alone stock up.

But emerging from this crisis is also incredible solidarity: non-profit organizations (food banks, community food centers, food hubs, community and school food programs) are joining farmers and retailers alike in affirming that they will continue to do their best to feed Canadians. Neighbours are reaching out to one another by helping to get groceries. Many  are volunteering to deliver meals to those who must stay at home.  

We are at a unique moment where just as quickly as the coronavirus has separated us, our collective power has brought us together in a creative manner. While we may feel powerless as we practice social distancing, there are many ways that we can help our communities.

As many community organizations rely on the help of volunteers, now is an important time for those who are healthy and able to spend a few hours helping to sort and pack food boxes. Meal delivery programs for the elderly or disabled can use extra drivers. And across the board, food security organizations can use monetary donations. 


Food Secure Canada has put together a list of what food organizations need across the country, but the need is undoubtedly much greater. As many of us find more time to reflect, may it spur us to pick up the phone and call a local organization, neighbour or friend to offer help. 


Of course, wider change will be required to ensure that our neighbours are not put in such precarious financial situations. To solve food insecurity, we must address structural inequality. Food should be seen as a right and addressing hunger should not be left to charity. The goal should be for all Canadians to access adequate, culturally appropriate nutritious food. It also means recognizing and supporting Indigenous food sovereignty and rights to land. 

While we work towards this broader change, we celebrate that right now, small acts of courage are strengthening our communities and transforming our food systems in ways that we have yet to understand. Canadians have a right to a future where food is healthy and sustainable and available to all. May we not miss our unique moment to move towards this goal, and may we continue to act together to make sure no one is left behind.

How to help in your region