(Image top: picture depicting food insecurity. Image bottom: the logo for a local grocery store found in Moss Park)
By: Amanda P.
As my group members and I walked through this vibrant neighbourhood, we were on the hunt for food places that we were both local to the area and internationally recognized as a franchised food chain. We specifically investigated this aspect of the neighbourhood because food is one of the most basic needs that is essential to human life. We have seen in lower-income areas, that food stores can be found however these food resources are limited and are of lower quality compared to other food resources found in higher-income areas. In the case of Moss Park, as we continued through our investigation, we found that there were many convenient stores, (sometimes two were found per block) were present in the neighbourhood and only one recently open FreshCo, which is a franchised owned and operating grocery store that can be found just beside Regent Park a neighbourhood, located adjacent to the neighbourhood of Moss Park. In an article written by Morris D.C. Komakech and Suzanne F. Jackson entitled, A Study of the Role of Small Ethnic Retail Grocery Stores in Urban Renewal in a Social Housing Project, Toronto, Canada, the authors explain that, “Urban renewal that takes place over many years can create uncertainties for retailers and residents, exacerbating the gentrification process,” (Komakech & Jackson, 2016, p. 414). Therefore, because the neighbourhood of Moss Park is in the beginning stages of the gentrification process, food insecurities, are perceived to be higher amongst this population due to rising prices in not only the cost of living but in food prices as well, “ Food insecurity in a Canadian context is defined as the inability to acquire or consume on adequate diet quality or sufficient quantity of food ins socially acceptable way, or the uncertainty that one will be able to do so, (Davies & Tarasuck 1994). In low-income neighbourhoods, the fast food options are twice the amount found in one block than in higher income neighbourhoods. This phenomena also creates many health inequalities, “Over one billion people are now suffering from hunger, according to FAO (2009). The number of people living in extreme poverty 2009 is estimated to be 55 million to 90 million higher than predicted before the global economic crisis. Poor people are often hungry people,” (D’Silva, 2011, p. 34).
Due to accessibility of these readily available food options, most of these establishments provide meal deals to the consumer centred on the premise that they are getting more food for the little money that they have to spend. These “affordable” food options are displayed in bright colours and font display outside of the store, in mailbox flyers and newspaper deals. The same situation occurs in local grocery stores, as these stores are considered low-end and do not always have the freshest ingredients to make a healthy meal. On average, an individual and/or family that lives on Ontario Works receives a monthly income of around $606.00 (Food Banks Canada, 2010). After their rent and utilities are paid, there is only a small amount leftover for groceries, transportation and personal care items. Due to the limitations of this budget, many people who live on this budget have to omit buying food items that are beneficial to their dietary needs. How are people that live in these neighbourhoods supposed to maintain a healthy diet when most options that surround them are unhealthy? What options can be put in place to address these concerns? Proper accessibility to a variety of food options can help people sustain a health diet, we believe that more community gardens should become available to these neighbourhoods as the results of a fresh vegetable and fruit yield is more bountiful and nourishing than those fruits and vegetable that can be found at the local grocery store. The community gardens should also consist of a centre that offers a wide range of donating seedling packets and also cooking classes for people to learn how to cook and preserve their crop yield. In creating these centres, it allows people to learn how to grow their own food and also brings the community of Moss Park together to help create healthy eating habits and practices.
Davis B. & Tarasuck V. (1994). Hunger in Canada. Agriculture and Human Values 11 (4): 50-57. In Health Canada. Household food insecurity in Canada: Overview. Retrieved March 2016 from: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/surveill/nutrition/commun/insecurit/index-eng.php#ft-np2
D’Silva, J.D. (2011). Global Food insecurity: rethinking agricultural and rural development paradigm and policy: Policies for Sustainable Argricultural Production and Consumption. p.34-52.
Food Banks Canada. (2010) Hungercount. Toronto: Food Banks Canada.
Komakech, M.D.C & Jackson, S.F. J. (2016). Urban Health, A study of the role of small ethnic retial grocery stores in Urban Renewal in a social housing project, Toronto, Canada. 93:414.