“It’s not about supply. It’s about equally sharing what’s out there,” says Nick Saul, CEO of Community Food Centres Canada. PHOTO BY GETTY IMAGES


Nicola Moore recently released her first song, “The Arrow.” A singer-songwriter, peer advocate at the Hamilton Community Food Centre, and single mother of three children under nine, she’s made the most of any pandemic-induced “lulls” in her life by writing music.

“I could sit here and get Ontario Works payments or I could do something about it and change my life, which is what I’m trying to do right now,” says Moore. “Advocacy and singing are my way out.“

A first-time gardener on a community plot, Moore is ecstatic when describing her harvest: cucumbers, green beans, lettuce, squash, tomatoes, a variety of herbs and an abundance of kale. She’s also in the midst of a project at work, illustrating how to spin a can of chickpeas a multitude of ways so others — like herself — can transform the canned items they get on monthly trips to the food bank.

“Because I am them,” says Moore. “They are me.”


Like an estimated 4.5 million Canadians, Hamilton Community Food Centre peer advocate and singer-songwriter Nicola Moore is food insecure. PHOTO BY HAMILTON COMMUNITY FOOD CENTRE


Prior to the pandemic, according to a report released by the non-profit Community Food Centres Canada (CFCC), an estimated 4.5 million Canadians experienced food insecurity. During COVID-19, that number has increased by 39 per cent; disproportionately affecting Black, Indigenous and northern communities. As a result of the strains of the pandemic, one in seven people — including Moore — is food insecure; unable to afford enough food, or worried about running out without the means to buy more.On Oct. 16, World Food Day “is calling for global solidarity to help all populations, and especially the most vulnerable, to recover from the crisis, and to make food systems more resilient and robust so they can withstand increasing volatility and climate shocks, deliver affordable and sustainable healthy diets for all, and decent livelihoods for food system workers.”

In Canada, as the findings of the CFCC report reveal, this issue remains pertinent as ever.

“It infects my life. I want to say affects, but it’s both. It affects my life on a daily basis,” says Moore. Because of her advocacy work, she was compelled to open up about her experiences in Beyond Hunger: The Hidden Impacts of Food Insecurity in Canada, for which the CFCC surveyed 561 people living on low incomes across the country.

“I felt like my story should be shared because I’m not the only one going through this. But I find that lower-income people tend not to share what’s happening with them because of pride. Because of embarrassment. It’s not cool to say you’re poor. It’s not cool to sit with a bunch of people at lunch and you’re like, wow, I wish I could buy that but I can’t. ‘I’ll have the soup.’”

To meet her family’s needs each week, Moore plans carefully with her sights set on sticking to “a very tight budget” of between $120 and $140. With a baby just shy of two years old, roughly half of that is allotted to her specific needs (such as diapers), and $10 goes towards milk. “And then god forbid my son has a growth spurt and drinks the whole bag at one time, which he’s been known to do,” she says. “That is stressful for me and I have to put on a good face for them. I don’t want them to know I’m worrying about that.”


Source: National Post

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