The struggle to help those living under the poverty line has been an ongoing one, and one that sees disparate levels of attention in different geographical areas. Most have seen the television adverts pleading with viewers to donate a small amount of money to assist those in—oftentimes—Africa, or other places with similar circumstances afflicting their people.
But as the United Way’s Afua Anku points out, poverty is something that many close to home also struggle with, perhaps more than we realize. As Anku notes, “in 2016 it is reported that 222,000 of Peel residents are living in poverty, and what is most discomforting about these statistics, is that Peel’s poverty rates are higher than provincial and national rates.”
This reality is one that the United Way has been attempting to resolve, and one forthcoming event in aid of their efforts is their Eating on the Edge campaign.
This campaign tangible insight into the lives of those living below the poverty line. Participants spend two days living off the limited food supply typically provided to those who depend on food banks for their meals. United Way calls it the Peel Poverty Diet. It consists of:
- 1 juice box (250ml) or small container of milk (250ml)
- 1 small can of soup (10oz/284ml)
- 1 package of instant oatmeal (43g)
- 1 of the following source of protein (175g tin of tuna or 175g tin of chicken or 1 egg or
- 3 tbsp of peanut butter)
- 1 small tin of fruit or vegetable (8oz)
- 1 small potato or 1 small onion
- 1 granola bar
- 5 non-food pantry items (i.e. coffee, tea, salt, pepper, seasoning, vinegar, honey,flour, sugar, oil) to use in addition to the aforementioned items
This meagre food supply is what thousands of people in Peel are currently living off of.
The hope is that this campaign will raise awareness and support for those with insufficient food security, which is typically defined as, “Ensuring all people have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet dietary needs for an active and healthy life,” but intrinsically carries a different meaning with different people.
The barriers to sufficient food security are often similar however, with obstacles like low-income, lack of transportation, and an absence of knowledge or space to prepare and store food stagnating the health and lifestyles of many people. High food pricing for better quality or nutritional options also adds to the struggle of obtaining good, healthy food.
With as many people as possible participating in this challenge, the goal is to change the dialogue on poverty from a simplistic ‘provide them with food’ approach, to a more longterm, sustainable approach wherein these individuals will eventually be able to obtain a more sizeable amount of food easily on their own, and make healthy food choices.
Ultimately, the United Way hopes to improve the food security of all those struggling within Peel Region, and this challenge is an important opportunity to get involved in their efforts. In their first year running the campaign, they raised $3,000, but more can be done, and participating in this event is a vital first step.
All those who do participate are encouraged to post about their experience on social media, and use the hashtag #PeelPovertyDiet to spread the word and raise awareness about the campaign and their efforts.