A provider of food for low-income families in Muskoka admits the new Canada Food Guide is tough to follow.
Lieutenant Kam Robinson of the Salvation Army in Bracebridge says she thinks the information provided by the guide is informative but makes for some hard choices from a financial perspective.
“My first impression is that the guidelines that are provided are wonderful but the items they are mostly focusing on are expensive items for the average person to be able to go and afford,” admits Robinson. “Certainly very, very out of reach for the clients that we serve in this community.”
She says that following the guide would be great, but being an outreach program for low-income people in the area forces the Food Bank to make different decisions.
“It’s some sustenance that people can get by on but it is not as healthy as we would like,” says Robinson. “However our goal’s a little different. It’s to help people who are really hungry. And their number one goal is to get some sort of food inside them.”
The Salvation Army Food Bank does offer things like fresh vegetables, protein in the form of various meat choices and also dairy products.
“We are certainly always trying to be more nutritional,” she explains. “We recognize that most of the people that live in poverty that we serve have medical or health issues. We have a lot of compassion for the fact that they are probably being told by a medical professional that they should be eating better. That’s unattainable for a lot of them if not for all of them.”
While offering food to people who are hungry is the main intent, the goal is to also educate people on how to use their food more efficiently. She notes, for example, cans of chickpeas have a lonely existence on their shelves.
“A lot of the people that come see us don’t want to eat chickpeas and don’t know what to do with them,” Robinson admits. “So we end up having them left on the shelf. So there are some things to work through for sure.”
There is an on-going course for young mothers on how to provide nutritious lunches for children, called Nourish. And the Food Bank also distributes cookbooks “on how to use beans and lentils.”
Robinson does understand the good place the Food Guide is coming from.
“I think their goal here is healthy Canadians,” she says. “And I understand that.”