Recently, I attended a very interesting research presentation on food security and seniors in Regina by Dr Nuelle Novik (Faculty of Social Work, University of Regina). She discussed the preliminary findings of her community-based research project. This project was collaborative effort with local community organizations like REACH to talk to seniors about how and why they access food security support programs. The themes that are emerging from this research really emphasize that food security isn’t just about food but about a whole web of factors: income, our formal and informal support networks, how we access food and transport it home, how resilient and creative we are in obtaining food and the impact of mental health.
One of the most fascinating ideas Dr Novik mentioned was about the supposed differences in rural and urban food sharing. There is this idea that rural people share resources to support each other in need while the fragmented and disconnected nature of urban living means that this doesn’t happen in cities. As a transplanted farm girl, I can attest to this rural food sharing. I’ve experienced friends and neighbours sharing garden bounty, wild game or dropping off dishes during times of celebration and hardship. And research also supports this idea. But perhaps we’re too hasty to cast an idyll rural life opposite an urban life where no one cares for you and you don’t know your neighbours. I think by doing so, we overlook something very important.
People care for each other regardless of where they live, and one of the best ways we show compassion and support is through sharing food.
We like to have potlucks with neighbours or have friends over for supper.
We’ll split large food purchases with family and friends.
We’ll go to the local neighbourhood centre for coffee and treats, or to our church for meals.
We’ll share the bounty of our backyard apple trees or gardens.
Both urban and rural folks can be – and are – incredibly creative in how we access and share our food. That fact makes me hopeful because it tells me that even though our community faces food security issues, we haven’t lost our capacity to share with one another.
By: Yolanda Hansen
President, REACH Board of Directors