Peterborough, ON – The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has exacerbated household food insecurity, and local organizations and our vulnerable populations need support more than ever.
The global outbreak of COVID-19 has been disrupting many aspects of our daily lives. While everyone has experienced the impact of the pandemic, it has exacerbated inequity and increased the vulnerability of marginalized populations including racialized people, women, lone-parents, children, people with disabilities, with low income and those who are experiencing homelessness.
- Food insecurity has been a serious problem in the Peterborough region for many years. According to Statistics Canada, between 2017 and 2018 about 14.5% or 1 in 7 households experienced food-insecurity in Peterborough, which is one of the highest rates in Ontario.
- Food insecurity is strongly linked to income, and simply having a job does not prevent one from becoming food insecure. Although many households rely on social assistance, Employment Insurance or Workers’ Compensation, most food-insecure households (65%) are in the workforce.
- Since the pandemic, there has been a 39% increase in rates of food insecurity across the country. Some of the causes for this increase include people experiencing from job loss or reduced hours while inflation increased the cost of living such as groceries and housing without a similar increase in wages and social services. Also, children could not access breakfast or lunch programs at school and there were more barriers to food programs because of the lockdown measures.
At the same time, local non-profit organizations working to address food insecurity concerns are also struggling. There has been an increased demand for services and increased expenses while many of their fundraising efforts had to be put on hold.
The Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough granted $250,000 to 21 local organizations working to address immediate needs related to food insecurity. The fund was available through a partnership with an anonymous donor.
“Thanks to a connection with an anonymous donor, and our close relationships with local charities, we were able to direct this significant grant to support local food security initiatives,” says Jennifer DeBues, Co-Executive Director at the Community Foundation. “A lot of our work is focused on the long-term, but this grant is an example of the ways the Foundation can leverage our strong partnerships and community knowledge to very quickly get money flowing into the community right when and where it’s needed.”