Adequate nutrition should be accessible

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A six-pack of eggs with one egg outside the pink carton. The carton is priced at $100, with a $9 price tag crossed out.
If eggs get this expensive, maybe I will stick to cereal… Clker-Free-Vector-Images via Pixabay, manipulated by lee lim

Cereal is not the option, so what is?

“Take it with a grain of salt” is a popular idiom that people tend to whip out to excuse advice given by those of higher social standing or with greater perceived success than ourselves.  

Spurred on by a February 21 statement by Kellogg’s Chief Executive Officer Gary Pilnick, the internet has started to flood with criticism and warnings from nutritionists about following this advice. Additionally, this event has brought to light the increasingly dire problems associated with inflation and high costs of living. 

A nutritionist based in Kelowna, British Columbia, Tania Gustafson, explained that eating cereal in the evening sets a person up for failure. In an interview with NowMedia, Gustafson said, “Your blood sugar’s going to spike, your heart rate goes up, so rather than being conducive to bringing all those things down and helping you relax to get a good sleep at night, you’re all wound up.” 

Gustafson also noted that cereal is typically high in sugar, making it less than ideal as a breakfast food, let alone a dinner meal. Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day, as the first things you eat in a day set the stage for a person’s energy levels and productivity for the rest of the day. 

Beginning the day with sugary food sets a person up for midday crashes, negatively affecting their ability to focus on their work. For children, Gustafson recommended breakfast that has protein in it. An article from KelownaNow said, “[Protein] helps stabilize blood sugar, preventing energy spikes and crashes in the day.” 

Instead of cereal, which is often high in sugar and carbohydrates, low in fibre, and nutritional value, Gustafson recommended “nutrient-dense foods that are not processed and are one single ingredient, keeping you satisfied longer and eating less,” according to the KelownaNow article.  

Nutrient-dense foods are typically whole and unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed/low-processed meats. However, anyone can tell you that these things are expensive, especially when they are out of season. Inflation trends in recent years offer no respite for this issue.  

On Nov 24, 2022, Shahidul Islam, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology, Economics, and Political Science at MacEwan University, published an article through The Conversation on this topic. In 2022, “A recent study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute found nearly 60 per cent of Canadians are struggling to provide food for their families. When they can afford to buy good, many cannot afford to buy enough, or buy the food they want.” 

Islam explained that high costs of food force people to skip meals or eat lower quality foods, resulting in insufficient nutrition. “Food, shelter and transportation account for over 60 per cent of a household’s expenses. If only food prices were subject to high inflation, households would be able to divert income from shelter and transportation to cover it. At the moment, however, high inflation spans across all three areas, meaning Canadians are having trouble putting food on the table, keeping a roof over their heads and affording transportation.” 

Although this information is over a year old, inflation is still a pressing issue and is being felt increasingly by consumers. However, there are programs and services available in Regina for people with food insecurity.  

REACH provides several community programs aimed at addressing Regina’s food insecurity issue. These programs include Good Food Box, Frozen Meals, Family Baskets, and Mobile Stores. The Good Food Box is “A box packed with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that can help you save up to 50 [per cent] off your produce bill. Produce is received, packed and shipped to depots across Regina the same day to ensure customers receive fresh items.” Orders are placed every two weeks and can be picked up at several locations in Regina.  

Frozen Meals is a program with “nutritious and convenient meals that are appropriate for several diets and delivered right to your door.” The Family Basket program is available to those accessing Saskatchewan Income Support and Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability, and offers a box of healthy food sold at the “lowest cost possible.”  

REACH Mobile Stores are weekly pop-up markets found around Regina. On March 4, 2024, the REACH website stated the YWCA has a Mobile Store open on Mondays from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Each program and its registration information can be found on the REACH website.  

Another option for Regina residents is the Regina Foodbank. On Nov 30, 2022, CJME spoke to the Regina Foodbank about its plan for a downtown food hub. On February 1, 2024, CJME spoke with CEO John Bailey about the project and its expected completion.  

The food hub is expected to launch in early summer this year, but until then it continues to offer food support at its primary location on 445 Winnipeg Street. The Regina Foodbank offers food hampers at no financial cost. According to their website, “there is no eligibility criteria to receive a food hamper. You will not be asked to commit volunteer hours, prove your income range, have Canadian citizenship status, etc., to receive a food hamper.” 

However, when registering, “You will be asked to provide 1) proof of address, and 2) government-issued identification for each individual in your household if you are able to.” Food hampers must be scheduled but can be scheduled for pickup, drive-thru, or delivery.  

Unfortunately, this can mean that people who may need help are unable to receive it since houseless people are unable to provide proof of address. Still, these services are a step in the right direction toward making nutrition easily accessible. Inflation has made it incredibly difficult to live a healthy life, and there are limited options subsidized by the government.  

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