How could P.E.I. solve food insecurity? Islanders weigh in

Almost a quarter of people under 18 in P.E.I. are living in food-insecure households, according to the latest information from Statistics Canada — many Islanders feel more should be done to change that.

Suggestions range from school meal programs to ensuring affordable housing

Around 23 per cent of children in P.E.I. are living in food insecure households, according to information from Statistics Canada. (Getty Images/Dorling Kindersley)

Almost a quarter of people under 18 in P.E.I. are living in food-insecure households, according to the latest information from Statistics Canada — and many Islanders say more should be done to change that.

The information, tracked by Statistics Canada, has P.E.I. and Nova Scotia as the worst among the provinces, with just under 23 per cent of children living with food insecurity.

We asked you what you think could be done on CBC Prince Edward Island's Facebook page — and received many suggestions.

(Please note that usernames are not necessarily the names of commenters. Some comments have been altered to correct spelling and to conform to CBC style.)

It starts in schools

Many comments made suggestions about the role of schools in both providing food for children and educating them about food and nutrition.

"I worked as a school chef back in the U.K. and school meals were tasty, nutritionally balanced and gladly received," wrote Rebecca Sly, who suggested P.E.I. implement a school meals program. "The children helped to plan the menus and grow the food they ate. For lower-income families this was the main meal of the day for children."

Rebecca Sly shared this image of some of the meals from when she was working as a school chef in the U.K. (Submitted by Rebecca Sly)

"When I taught in Taiwan, kids were fed breakfast, lunch and snacks at school," wrote Marina Colleen. "Not only were the kids fed — they were expected to help serve lunch and clean up after themselves — both good life lessons. Many European countries also serve meals and snacks to children and not chicken nuggets, fries and chocolate milk but veggies, fruits and whole grains."

"Why don't we teach the children how to grow their own food and gather wild edibles safely instead of teaching them useless skills they might use twice in their life?" suggested Evan Clow.

Divert the waste

Other comments pointed to food being waste, and how it might be diverted.

"Maybe the government could give farmers and grocery chains an incentive to donate on a larger scale," suggested Felicity Measham.

"We could turn our eyes to what is going on in France with the government passing laws forbidding food waste," added Marina Colleen. "Not only does this help get food to those who need it, it diverts so much food waste from our landfills."

More support needed

Some comments called for more government and community supports for those in need.

"More community outreach programs for a start — soup kitchens, community cooking events, community breakfast programs outside of the school," said Steve Lane, who also suggested reaching out to local businesses to support food initiatives.

The bigger picture

Other comments pointed out that to solve food insecurity, P.E.I. has to solve poverty.

"Shameful. We can do better P.E.I.," said Bill McKinnon. "Starting with a basic income guarantee."

"I will give my two cents as someone living below the poverty line," said Alice MacPhee. "We have a housing crisis which has driven up the cost of rent and home ownership dramatically! With the cost of living so much higher food is harder to afford."

MacPhee suggests a push from government to build more affordable apartments. She also said social assistance programs aren't enough for many people to live off.

"Social assistance programs are not advancing with the times," she said. "They are doing their best but with the cost of living going up, social assistance programs seem to be largely giving out the same amount of money for families in need."

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