Thursday, May 05, 2016

New column day

Here, contrasting Brad Wall's giveaway of public money to subsidize take-out meals against his choice to make healthy food less accessible to the people who need it most in Saskatoon's inner city.

For further reading...
- The Star-Phoenix reported on the history of Station 20 West, as well as the public backlash against the Saskatchewan Party's choice to pull provincial funding from the project and the eventual closure of the Good Food Junction.
- Meanwhile, Rachel Engler-Stringer studied the effect of the store while it lasted:
(O)f residents in the neighbourhoods surrounding the Good Food Junction, over a third have household incomes of less than $20,000, and more than half are less than $30,000. With household incomes this low, and given what we know about the cost of housing in Saskatoon, it’s likely that a large proportion of households in Saskatoon’s core neighbourhoods are buying minimal if any food, let alone at the Good Food Junction.

We also studied sales data at the Good Food Junction over a one-year period. We found that a large proportion of sales were for less than $10, which is not enough to support even a not-for-profit store. Small purchases are consistent with low incomes and people having very little money with which to buy food.

Our analysis also showed those living near the Good Food Junction spent more on vegetables and less on meat and prepared foods than people living further away. This tells us the store was being used for the importantly nutritious foods they couldn’t buy anywhere else,  and not just to buy the same foods available in neighbourhood convenience stores.

We also followed about 150 regular Good Food Junction shoppers for a year and asked them questions about their health, how they access food, and their household characteristics. We found 1 in 3 were ‘moderately food insecure’, compromising on the quality and quantity of food they were eating due to not having enough money. More than 1 in 5 were ‘severely food insecure’, eating less food regularly and sometimes skipping eating for whole days. This means that over half of the shoppers we studied were struggling with some form of food insecurity, much higher than the Canadian average of 8%.

Researching door-to-door we also asked them if they used community food resources. This includes charities like the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre, Good Food Boxes and community gardens organized by CHEP, and many others. Almost 3 in 4 households used at least one of these community food resources, with some using up to 4 of them. More than 40% of households reported using charitable food sources such as food bank hampers and meal programs, another figure far higher than the national average of 3%.

All of this data put together tell us one of the main reasons for the Good Food Junction closing, is that many people in the neighbourhood are just too poor to shop there (or anywhere else). They are instead  having to resort to charity to feed themselves and their families. That should not be acceptable anywhere, let alone in a rich country such as ours.
- Finally, Kevin O'Connor reported on the new subsidy to Skip the Dishes. And Murray Mandryk is one of many highlighting the Saskatchewan Party's picking of winners and losers - but not so much the priorities it sees as important in the first place.

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