Nova Scotia's food security lags compared to much of Canada
Social change needed to deal with high food prices, says Canada research chair in food security
Nova Scotia is among the worst in the country when it comes to food security, according to Mount Saint Vincent University's Canada research chair in food security.
"The trends are really concerning and are quite serious," said Patty Williams. "In Nova Scotia, we're seeing increases in the prevalence of food insecurity since 2005.
"Nova Scotia has one of the highest rates in the country. Only Nunavut was higher."
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Four million people in Canada struggle daily to provide food for themselves, said Williams.
That's because food prices are continuing to rise and it's having a dramatic impact on the quality and quantity of food that goes on the plates of people across the country.
High prices hamper access to food
Williams said the most recent numbers suggest almost one in five Nova Scotians struggles to get enough nutritious food.
In 2002, a nutritious food basket to feed a family of four for a month cost $573, according to Williams.
That number skyrocketed to $850 in 2012 and since then it's gone up by another $100, she said. The number could reach $1,000 by the fall of 2016 when the next round of numbers will be released.
The high price of food hits everyone, but especially low income earners and people who are unemployed.
"There are pockets of the population in Nova Scotia and across Canada that have unacceptably high rates of food insecurity," said Williams.
"Lone mothers are at a higher risk of food insecurity as are people living in aboriginal communities because many have issues with water and access to food."
New programs needed
Williams said federal and provincial governments need to find and implement new programs to help reduce the number of families struggling to make ends meet when it comes to putting healthy food on the table.
"We really need to be able to do something about it because it does impact long-term health. It just makes sense to invest in strong social policy that will get those numbers down."
Williams said people are starting to take action, and there's lots of work being done in communities across Nova Scotia to help people get the food they need.
"People are becoming very concerned about this and taking action and there are things people can do in their communities to try and improve access to food."