Food for ThoughtPosted March 16, 2018 by Peter Gill
Since Chalmers Community Services Centre began operating in 1997 its primary purpose has been based on helping provide those in need with food. Part of our mission statement includes the line “food security for all”.
And yet in the city of Guelph approximately 17%, of people live with food insecurity according to the recent Vital Signs report, a snapshot of the health of our community. The same report states that a healthy basket of food for a family of four costs 27% more in 2017 than it did in 2009, the first year that data was collected. Food security can range from worrying about having sufficient resources to purchase food to actually skipping meals.
So what role does Chalmers play to alleviate this situation? You’ll see that the report talks about a healthy basket of food and that’s where Chalmers is important. Guests are able to come to CCSC every two weeks and receive 2 to 3 days’ supply of food per visit. We want to make that food as healthy as possible and so a number of years ago a registered dietitian drew up a ‘basket’ of essential foods which would cover all food groups. And so guests receive basic vegetables – potatoes, carrots, onions as well as a choice of greens. They also receive apples, oranges and bananas. Other choices of produce are available in summer when we receive donations from farms, community gardens and other agencies which may have a surplus. We have four fridges at our downtown location and two at our west site so we do have plenty of capacity to store perishables.
Eggs and cheese are two of our most important foods as well as milk powder (we used to have an inexpensive source for goat’s milk but we can no longer get it). Cans of vegetables – peas, beans, corn, tomatoes as well as tins of soup are also available to all. We try to give peanut butter to as many as possible as this is a great source of protein. Cereal and bread are staples which all our guests receive.
In total we distributed about 140,000 lbs of food in 2017.
Food prices have risen by 27% since 2009 according to the recent Vital Signs report. Food purchased by Chalmers has gone up by much more than that as demand for our services has increased. Healthy food is also the most expensive. So we continue to seek innovative ways to source healthy food through community and individual contacts and partnerships and of course we always stand by our commitment to provide the most nutritious food that we can.