The issues of food security and of hunger among Canadians, is one I constantly struggle getting my head around.
I tend to get the idea of someone living on the streets of Toronto, or Vancouver, likely to face hunger as an all too regular occurrence.
People without a fixed address and no income quickly fall through the cracks of most special services supports, and have limited ability to affect change directly.
In Saskatchewan hunger certainly exists.
Anyone doubting that only needs to talk to the Salvation Army at the seeming ever longer list of those needing Christmas hampers, or to those operating food banks, which seem to face a growing need as well.
Certainly as housing costs rise in reaction to a stronger economy, and utility rates seem to continually inch higher, wages are hard-pressed to keep pace, and so household budgets get stretched and that can mean the larder goes empty as month-end nears.
But the question is why the larder is empty?
I recently sat down to a coffee with Warren Crossman, one of the founders of the Assiniboine Food Security Alliance, a Yorkton and area organization dedicated to helping people take some greater control of their own food supply.
I remarked that in 25-plus years as a journalist there are two things I have seen change in a city such as Yorkton.
The first is that there was a time a reporter in need of a photograph in winter could drive down just about any residential street and find kids playing street hockey.
Today you might burn a half tank of gas in search of that game.
And in the summer a drive down back alleys would have shown a large vegetable garden in most backyards.
Again today, you can do a lot of driving and barely find a backyard with a tomato plant, or row of radishes.
Fewer and fewer people grow their own food.
Fewer still have cold storage and deep freezers to prepare and store food for the winter.
We have come to rely on a supermarket as our food source, making near-daily trips to fill the table.
The shelves are full, but every bag of groceries comes with a cost attached, unlike a cold storage bin filled with vegetables from a person’s own garden.
Even for those in apartments, there are garden options, from a community garden organized by the Assiniboine group, to the opportunity to talk to area farmers about a small garden area.
There are opportunities to take greater control of our food supply and in so doing lessen our dependence on cash and products coming from other provinces and around the world.
In small communities and cities, at least across the Prairies food security is something we can have a direct hand if we only want to take the step.
Calvin Daniels is Assistant Editor with Yorkton This Week.