New report shows food insecurity a growing concern for Peterborough

University researchers say now is the time for new approaches

The report finds that while Peterborough has many community-based food security initiatives, such as the YWCA Peterborough Haliburton JustFood Program, a systems-wide strategy for food from production to consumption is absent in Peterborough (photo courtesy of YWCA Peterborough Haliburton Nourish Project)
The report finds that while Peterborough has many community-based food security initiatives, such as the YWCA Peterborough Haliburton JustFood Program, a systems-wide strategy for food from production to consumption is absent in Peterborough (photo courtesy of YWCA Peterborough Haliburton Nourish Project)

A new report entitled Food Access, Housing Security and Community Connections: A Case Study of Peterborough, Ontario was released today by Carleton and Trent University academics, in association with the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at Wilfrid Laurier University.

The report concludes that the community of Peterborough is doing many things right when it comes to addressing food insecurity and housing insecurity, but that the issues are not going away and may even be getting worse. It argues that it is time for some new cross-cutting approaches.

“Peterborough was chosen for this study because it faces challenges when it comes to both food insecurity and housing insecurity,” says Dr. Peter Andrée of Carleton University, lead author of the report.

“Despite this, Peterborough is home to a vibrant collection of community-based initiatives working to address these issues alongside City and County governments.”

The report finds that 11.5% of Peterborough households are "food insecure" (graphic: Peterborough County-City Health Unit)
The report finds that 11.5% of Peterborough households are “food insecure” (graphic: Peterborough County-City Health Unit)
The report identifies household food insecurity as a growing issue in Peterborough City and County. Food insecurity research shows that 11.5% of households in the City and County of Peterborough are food insecure, an increase from the 10% reported in 2013.

In 2011, 26% of households (including 48% of rental households) in Peterborough paid at least 30% of their income on housing (Statistics Canada, 2014). Because of insufficient affordable housing and low average wages, renters earning the average Peterborough wage of $18/hour had to work longer than in any other Canadian city to cover the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment.

“When people are forced to choose between food and shelter, housing is often paid for first, leaving families hungry at the end of the month,” notes Dr. Rosana Pellizzari, Medical Officer of Health and Chair of the Peterborough Food Action Network. “Clearly, the common denominator between the issues of food access and housing insecurity is insufficient income to make ends meet”.

The report concludes that all levels of government need to take the issue of income security much more seriously. It is time to take action on Living Wage and social assistance rates, and explore the potential of a Basic Income Guarantee.

The full report is available at http://legacy.wlu.ca/docsnpubs_detail.php?grp_id=13686&doc_id=62514.

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