What Will Happen to Local Food Security After COVID-19?

Written by Comms Team, October 16, 2021

Peterborough Food Action Network Releases New Report on Pandemic Recovery and the Right to Food

October 16 marks the United Nations’ World Food Day, a call to advocate worldwide for healthy food accessible to all. On the ground locally, the Peterborough Food Action Network (PFAN) released a report today looking at household food insecurity during COVID-19, and how Peterborough can move towards a better “normal” beyond the pandemic.

Lauren Kennedy, PFAN member and Registered Dietitian at Peterborough Public Health, shared the reason for the report: “Peterborough’s pre-pandemic ‘normal’ was not OK for many community members facing food insecurity and health inequities. Even before COVID-19 affected livelihoods, 14.5% of Peterborough households worried about having enough money to put food on the table.”

“During the pandemic, food insecurity has disproportionately affected people who were already vulnerable. In moving towards real recovery, we need to address the factors and systems that generate those vulnerabilities,” said Dr. Mary Anne Martin, PFAN member, food systems researcher and Trent University instructor. “Household food security increased in Canada during COVID-19. National rates jumped up 39% from pre-pandemic numbers in the first two months of the pandemic.”

According to PFAN, a shift is needed to understand food as a human right. “Seeing food as a human right means that everyone should be able to access the food that they need, along with other basic needs, like housing, and clean air and water,” added Dr. Martin.

In its report, PFAN recommends actions and policies such as a Basic Income Guarantee and other income supports, affordable housing, cross-sectoral collaboration, support for growing food at home, and a systemic approach to anti-racism. Actions individuals can take include becoming involved with PFAN (www.foodinpeterborough.ca) or Nourish (www.nourishproject.ca), or joining Hungry for Income, a seven-week series hosted by Nourish design to transform participants’ understanding of food insecurity. For information or to register, visit https://nourishproject.ca/hungry-income.  Residents are also invited to join Joshna Maharaj, a chef, author and activist, for a public lecture in November on rebuilding our food systems after the pandemic. See Trent University’s Lady Eaton College events page for details. Addressing household food insecurity aligns with local work on advancing Sustainable Development Goals and the work of other networks supporting healthy local food systems, such as the Peterborough Alliance for Food and Farming (www.localfoodptbo.ca). Groups such as Food for Kids (www.foodforkidsptbo.ca ) and their school food box program also play an important role in promoting healthy local food in our community.

Kennedy added, “We need to work together to shift towards seeing food as a human right, to allow for dignified access to healthy food for everyone.”

The report can be found on PFAN’s website, www.foodinpeterborough.ca.

The Peterborough Food Action Network (PFAN) brings together agencies and individuals to build community food security as part of local poverty reduction efforts. PFAN’s vision is that everyone in Peterborough City and County will have enough healthy food to eat as part of a long-term food security strategy. Since the start of the pandemic, PFAN has been bringing together people promoting food access through the COVID-19 and Food Access for Vulnerable Populations group.

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For further information, please contact:
Lauren Kennedy, Registered Dietitian
705-743-1000, ext. 263
lkennedy@peterboroughpublichealth.ca