Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

A Food Policy for Canada Doesn’t Offer Much to Chew On

9 Comments

Screen Shot 2019-06-21 at 8.48.32 PM

You may have heard that Canada released a food policy last week. Which is great but it seems to be light on specifics and really just a bunch of food-related budget items grouped together and called a policy.

There were a few things in the policy that I was pleased to see: the government’s “intention” to work with the provinces and territories to develop a national school food program. This is long overdue and much needed. A universal  school food program would ensure that children had the nutrition that they need to learn and grow (at least during the school day) and would help alleviate some of the burden on parents who may not have sufficient income or resources to ensure their children have healthy breakfasts and lunches. Unfortunately, I don’t see any money marked for this item and as we head into an election, forgive me if I sound cynical in my “I’ll believe it when I see it” attitude. I’m also concerned about who will be involved in developing such a program as we don’t want to fall into the trap of promoting brands or providing unappealing, less than nutritious meals – like we often hear about from our neighbours in the States.

I was happy to see money going toward promoting locally grown and produced foods as well as toward preventing food fraud. However, despite the budget lines devoted to these items sounding huge to me as a dietitian who works with a budget that’s a fraction of these amounts, in the big picture of the government, it’s not very much money at all. They’ve marked $25 million for a buy local produce campaign and $24.4 million to combat food fraud. Contrast this with the $12 million they gave to Loblaw to retrofit their fridges a few months ago.

The part that I’m most disappointed by is the first item mentioned in the policy introduction and that’s their so-called efforts to reduce food insecurity. The example they give is of providing a grant to a food bank so that they can buy more freezers. Are. You. Kidding. Me. Food insecurity is something that I would have loved to have seen this policy address more fulsomely. Unfortunately, they really missed the mark on this important issue. Yes, in some communities and some circumstances, access to sufficient nutritious food is absolutely an issue. However, in the vast majority of cases of Canadians who are experiencing food insecurity the root cause is insufficient income. There are people in every community across the country who cannot afford enough nutritious food for themselves and their families. Continuing to support the food charity model (i.e. food banks) is not the answer. Give the people of Canada a basic income. Empower people to be able to afford to make their own food decisions. Food banks provide an essential emergency service but they were never intended to be permanent solutions to hunger and poverty. Providing more money for food banks only further entrenches them in our food system and society and allows the government to get off easy without making any meaningful effort to end food insecurity.

Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

9 thoughts on “A Food Policy for Canada Doesn’t Offer Much to Chew On

  1. I would love to see us develop a lunch program like the one I’ve heard about in France.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Give the people of Canada a basic income.” Absolutely agree with you on this Diana. With the implementation of autonomous vehicles, increased use of AI to do work at all levels of the employment scale and the fall out of Climate Change the future for employment is not looking rosy. Unfortunately with people like Ford being elected in various parts of our country I am not feeling optimistic. I really hope that people look long and hard at their options in the fall election – recognize that neither the Liberals or the Conservatives have our short or long term interests in their sights and that it is time to look at the alternatives. The Green Party is much more than just the environment. Let’s choose people and the planet in the next election not pay offs, pipelines and corporate welfare.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As a current resident of Ontario I am enraged by #fordnation and extremely concerned about the potential for the conservatives to win the upcoming federal election. I’m also not feeling optimistic but I still hope that enough people with good sense get out and vote. Imagine how different it could be if Michael Chong has won the leadership of the federal Conservative party.

      Like

  3. I feel like the last 2 items will work against each other – 25million to help fund food advertising for industries and 25 million to fight food fraud. So we could end up with a new “got chocolate milk” campaign for schools, and a program teaching kids that chocolate milk has added sugar and isn’t the best pick. Sounds like the gov’t is working all sides of the problem.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Aren’t all these “surveys” simply generalities? That’s why I enjoy your posts so much – you give solutions to challenges (as I did) and specific practical applications to inspire and motivate in normal life. Another great post!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s