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Food insecurity


A recent survey just came out that stated that 20% of all respondents were reducing meal sizes or skipping meals in order to save money.

This is in addition to the food bank usage up by 40% and the school breakfast programs usage surging.

People are having a hard time with the escalating costs of food.

This is no wonder, with food inflation in BC skyrocketing as well. Grocery store pricing is up by 11.4%, over 10% for two months in a row, which is the highest cost escalation in 40 years.

So if it feels like everything is costing more, it is.

The high price of food is affecting women three times more than men, and youth are also reporting disproportionately being impacted. UBC students staged a walkout last week to protest a lack of university action on food insecurity.

The percentage of British Columbians struggling with the cost of food was higher than the national average, because our food costs are higher than in other provinces.

People are struggling to feed themselves.

This inflation is being fought through interest rate escalation. Unfortunately, economists are telling us that this inflation-fighting tool disproportionately affects lower socioeconomic demographics, and will further the divide between the haves and the have nots.

Food security is serious.

In BC, we are fortunate to have so many agricultural resources, but are we supporting them enough?

Why isn’t farming as profitable as it would seem to be with the price escalations we are seeing? Why is the cost of food going up?

Farmers are also suffering under inflation. The cost of their labour has gone up, they are paying new taxes on their labour called the Employer Health Tax (EHT), on top of paying for private health care for their employees.

The farming industry has seen the costs of their machinery and equipment go up as well as taxes on their vehicles, like trucks.

Then there is the cost of fuel. One rancher I spoke to reported having normal fuel costs of $30,000 now $140,000 for the same month.

So the input costs for food have risen exponentially, but the revenues have not gone up by that same percentage.

Which is where the security issue is. If farming isn’t sustainable, our food won’t be either.

If our food isn’t secure, neither is our economy and our society. There is a direct link between all of these aspects of our community.

So what do we do?

The BC NDP Government need to do more to curb cost escalation of food. Many of the taxes and costs I mentioned are directly related to taxes that have been added under this government’s majority.

The taxes that this government has on our fuel is why we have the most expensive fuel costs in North America.

You read that correctly – the highest in North America.

Supports for farmers should be given and streamlined processes should be created. Direct sales and farmers markets should be created. But while we wait for government to act, we can all support our local food organizations, agencies, and those feeding those in need.

Take for instance the Gurdwara Guru Armadas Sikh Society and their application for a new site.

This new site includes a larger facility as well as gardens to feed the needs and train people going through difficult times. As many know, the Gurdwaras in our community feed thousands each year.

I recently heard of students eating daily at the Gurdwara as they struggled with the escalation of food costs. The generosity of the Sikh community is extraordinary.

Give to the food bank. Give to our school feeding programs, where they can give to the children in need in our communities.

My question to you this week is this: How are you coping with the inflated cost of food?

I love hearing from you. Please email me at Renee.Merrifield.MLA@leg.bc.ca or call me at 250-712-3620.

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