Inkster residents face food access challenges, group finds
Residents of low-income neighbourhoods end up paying more for groceries, says Food Matters Manitoba
Live in Winnipeg's Inkster area? You may face major hurdles when it comes to access to healthy food, according to new research by a local food security group.
Inkster, which includes the Brooklands, Burrows-Keewatin and Weston neighbourhoods, is one of the city's lowest-income areas and has limited access to grocery stores, according to a community assessment report being released today by Food Matters Manitoba.
The group says residents there face the highest rates of hypertension and the fastest rising rate for diabetes in the city.
Stefan Epp-Koop, program manager with Food Matters Manitoba, says it's often in the lowest-income neighbourhoods where people pay more for their groceries.
"It's difficult for people, especially people with low incomes, to actually get to a grocery store, and so [they] are often having to do a lot of their grocery shopping at convenience stores or places with higher prices," he told CBC News.
"Those people with the least money are paying the most to get to a grocery store or are paying the most on their groceries at these smaller stores."
The group's research found that nine of 14 stores in Inkster were found to be selling milk at prices above the legal regulated price.
Inkster resident Tanis Engelbretson said healthy food is hard to come by in the area.
“Being on income assistance and being on a budget – there’s nothing really accessible here for that,” said Engelbretson.
The 43 year old doesn’t have a car, so she either walks 20 minutes to the closest grocery store or takes a cab or bus.
“I get a lot of like boxed, the french fries, the chicken nuggets, the chicken burgers – convenient, something quick, easy because that’s what I can afford,” said Engelbretson.
Engelbretson was recently diagnosed with diabetes and worries her diet has something to do with it.
A new food centre is scheduled to open in October, just a few blocks from Engelbretson. It will offer free lunches, cooking and gardening classes.
Epp-Koop said cities can play a part in helping people access healthy food, and the research aims to find solutions.
"In the short term, I think, like establishing a fresh food market — sort of creating these places for people to be able to access affordable, fresh and healthy food, particularly in the neighbourhoods with low incomes and the least access to grocery stores," he said.