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Local Poverty Roundtable seeks feedback on access for affordable food

The Poverty Roundtable of Hastings Prince Edward seeks input from the community to help inform a provincial Food Security Strategy.

In April, the Ontario Minister of Housing, also responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy, shared plans to create a provincial strategy to support access to sufficient, safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food for everyone in Ontario.

“This strategy couldn’t be more timely,” said Christine Durant, executive director of the Hastings Prince Edward Poverty Roundtable. “Food insecurity rates continue to climb, with 13.8 per cent of HPEC residents being food insecure. This is higher than the provincial average of 11.9 per cent.”

Food insecurity is about so much more than food says Jessica Richardson, Registered Dietitian from Hastings Prince Edward Public Health.

“Access to nutritious food is a basic human right, but when income is low and living expenses are high, many people are forced to sacrifice money meant for food in order to pay for rent and other basic expenses like transportation and heat/hydro.”

The Food Security Working Group of the Hastings Prince Edward Poverty Roundtable invites local residents to share their ideas about improving food security locally, at a public event “in a safe and confidential manner”.

As well as an online survey, a public consultation is set for Monday, May 15th from 6 – 8 pm at the Poverty Roundtable office at 65 Station Street, Belleville. Registration is not required.

The event is open to anyone interested in providing input or learning more. However, local news and media staff are asked not to attend, to ensure a safe and confidential space for people to share sensitive information.

Participants will discuss what food insecurity means in HPEC, what the government and private sectors can do to improve food security, and what community initiatives have proven to be successful.

The Food Security Working Group will use the ideas generated at this event to prepare recommendations for the Ontario Minister of Housing and local politicians. Recommendations will also be published for the public to review.

Those unable to attend in person are invited to submit ideas online at https://www.ontario.ca/form/food-security-survey, before May 31st, 2017.

The Poverty Roundtable of HPE was formed in 2013 to look at things that can be done to address the causes of poverty and to broaden the community’s capacity to do so by working together. The Food Security Working Group is a subgroup of the PRT, and provides a forum for collaboration, knowledge exchange, awareness raising, advocacy and action that contributes to food security in HPEC.

Both groups are made up of members representing social services, business, government, health, mental health, education, justice, housing, labour, faith, food security, and community members/volunteers.

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