What is World Food Safety Day?
According to WHO: “World Food Safety Day (WFSD) will be celebrated on 7 June 2023 to draw attention and inspire action to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks, contributing to food security, human health, economic prosperity, agricultural production, market access, tourism and sustainable development.”
One in ten peopleworldwide falls ill from contaminated food each year. That’s 780 million people.
Over 200 diseases are caused by eating food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances such as heavy metals.
Food Security and Homeless Youth
Youth are one of the fastest growing and most vulnerable subgroups of the homeless population. A study conducted on Toronto’s homeless youth population found that youth facing homelessness were nutritionally vulnerable.
Being nutritionally vulnerable has significant ramifications including: poor health, which is a barrier to obtaining and maintaining employment; eating fast food because it’s inexpensive and immediately consumable (many youth lack access to proper food storage); and possible impairment of cognitive and physiological functions; increase risk of infections; and exacerbating depression and substance abuse.
In a word, homeless youth do not have food security. They are also at risk of eating contaminated food. Why? Many reasons:
Financial barriers: Nutritious food is prohibitively expensive. Many youth have to use all of their financial resources to stay in an SRO (single-room occupancy), which results in little or no money for food. Many SROs do not have fridges, or allow any kind of cooking (for fire safety reasons).
Storage barriers: Many youth do not have refrigeration facilities available for milk and other perishables. If youth are living on the street, they have no storage facilities. A lack of fruit, vegetables, dairy, and protein can contribute to food insecurity. Some services only provide food that requires the use of kitchen facilities.
Accessibility barriers: A service may be too far away, or too far to away to carry goods without transportation. Some services only operate on certain days/at certain times, which may not coincide with a youth’s work schedule.
Trauma barriers: There may be a service that triggers a childhood memory, or perhaps the youth had a bad experience the last time they accessed that service. Youth may also feel stigmatized.
Dependent barriers: Some youth are not only taking care of themselves, but have siblings with disabilities who they are also taking care of.
Helping Youth with Food Security
At CHV, our programs and services help youth with food security.
Last year, our kitchen lovingly prepared over 96,000 meals. In addition to serving meals, youth in our Crisis Program and Rights of Passage program learn life skills. They learn budgeting, how to shop for the most nutritious food possible within their budgets, and they are taught how to safely cook their food.
For youth who access our Drop-In Centre, there is Covey’s Cupboard. Through our partnership with the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, we are able to provide healthy nonperishables such as granola bars, canned tuna, and fruit cups as part of our offering. We now have a fridge, so we are able to offer perishables, like milk, and frozen foods.
The ability to offer perishables along with non-perishable goods has significantly increased our numbers and highlighted just how many youth struggle with food insecurity.
As we are all aware, the price of food has risen dramatically and will continue to rise. This not only affects the meals that are prepared at CHV and the food used in our cooking workshops, but also affects our ability to stock Covey’s Cupboard. If you would like to support CHV’s programs and services, which help youth with food security, you may do so here.