Name: Jack Butt
Occupation: Chair - Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit - Board of Health
Favourite food: Steak
Guiltiest food pleasure: Sweets and Chicken Wings
Family size: 2
Estimate of how much you and your family spend on food per week: ?
Why you are participating in this project:
To assist in raising awareness about food security and to help spread “the word” that folks on assistance do not have sufficient dollars to survive or to purchase nutritious and culturally accepted foods.
Why this issue is important to you:
November 17, 2010
We are about population based health and prevention – this is a social determinant of health.
I hope that my experience and that of the others can assist in some way to change the perception of the decision makers about poverty and food security. Perhaps we in Public Health need to find a different way to package or explain the message. I would have thought that developing and sustaining safe and healthy communities and providing a positive return on an investment was a positive outcome!
That notwithstanding….what an experience at the food bank….hearing about the process of a client, receiving the basket, trying to decide what else….not sure the large box of bran flakes was such a good idea. Protein…..tuna and eggs….no fresh fruit or vegetables…hope the community lunches and dinners provide the add-ons.
Have not worked out my menus but the eggs and toast will get me through the week for breakfasts….
November 18, 2010 - Day 1
Keep looking at the tins and trying to figure out how to make this work....I must say the pre-cooked eggs are a great idea...and quite tasty. Hardest part of the day was sitting next to fresh fruit and cookies at the Board of Health meeting.....I resisted....perhaps in a couple of days it will not be that easy!
I am only doing this for a week.....and if I run out of food well I can access our home supply. Could I cope 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year? Our fridge was always full....even when we would say there is nothing good to eat here....we had choices.
I also thought today about the stigma associated with asking for food from the food bank and gong to the community suppers and lunches. I can drive to the different locations....what if I had to walk?
Most people are supportive of my participation and want to know “what did you get?”.... “It’s only for a week!” I am thinking I need to explain that this is not a game, it’s about raising awareness, this is serious business and as a society we need to find a solution.
Need to think about this some more.
November 19, 2010 - Day 2
So far breakfasts and lunch not really out of my norm.....although Kraft dinner not a favourite. I love soup at noon and tomorrow is the last. Perhaps I can make my own, with ketchup and pepper!
We know that poor diet and poor nutrition have a negative influence on our health. We also know that our diet contains too much sodium and that we have advocated with government to reduce the amount of sodium in our diet.
So what do I have in my “stash”....can of stew 38% sodium, Alphabet Pasta 60%, Ravioli 35% and my last can of soup, Cream of Chicken at 43%. What would I do if I had hypertension and was on a low sodium diet?
As the Chair of the Board of Health I am cognizant of the need to improve and enhance our food security programs. I am also aware of the shortfall in allowances and am prepared to be a community advocate to lobby for change....but need many more community voices to share this passion and concern with our decision makers. I ask why are we being unsuccessful in having folks see this reality! In 2010 it is unacceptable to have people go hungry!
So now I am asking my friends if they are prepared to make a difference!
November 20, 2010 - Day 3
Bad News Good News
I have been fighting this cold for a week and yesterday at noon it reached its peak. The good news, I did not have to figure out a meal plan.
November 21, 2010 - Day 4
Adhering to the diet has actually been pretty easy because of my flu. Thank God that I have sufficient stored fat.
Some thoughts for follow-up....at the end of this week what are we going to do? Acknowledge that it was an interesting experience and move on or are going to advocate for change working towards the goal for the elimination of Food Banks. In the short run will we include the Food Bank on our list of charities? What about advocating for an increase in the stipend? What about encouraging our friends and neighbours to share their good fortunes with those who are less fortunate.
November 22, 2010 - Day 5
My bug has not moved on so any feelings of anxiousness and lethargy are probably from myself imposed fasting. However soup and other liquids are keeping me hydrated and burning up stored fat. There is a positive outcome!
I would like to share this report http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/Canada/20101119/poverty-diabetes-101121/. For years, Canadians have heard that obesity, a lack of physical activity and a family history are the top risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes. But new Canadian research says that, in fact, it is living in poverty that can double or even triple the likelihood of developing the disease...
Some of you may also be interested in having your name added to the Social Determinants Of Health list serve managed by Dennis Raphael from York University SDOH@YORKU.CA
November 23, 2010 - Day 6
This would be considered a hearty breakfast as opposed to a "healthy southern breakfast". Note the sawmill gravy. I can admit that before going golfing when I am down south it is an easy sell.
Attended a roundtable investment meeting with a wide cross section of people some from Quebec who are also experiencing issues with food banks, increased numbers fewer in-kind donations and less monetary contributions. Consensus was that all of us: government leaders, the community, need to be better neighbours, need to set ambitious and perhaps lofty goals and need to establish food security as priority.
No solutions but I think I have more advocates and champions. Together I believe we can make difference!
November 24, 2010 - Day 7
So here we are day 7. The super bug which caught up with me made my choices and coping strategy quite easy. Had I attempted to follow Canada’s Food Guide I would have been in trouble. The juice and canned fruit would have to be more carefully rationed. Salmon and Tuna albeit tasty, would not I believe be that way after 52 weeks of a diet with no choices.
So you say you had access to community dinners and lunches…..yes and I could drive to them…..what if I lived in a rural community or had no car or was infirmed…..would anyone else have cared? Or even offered to help you!
So this exercise was not about seeing how I can cope for a week. We all can make that work. It was about creating awareness; it was about sensitizing us to the needs of others and at the end of creating more voices as without action nothing will change.
I am passionate about making a difference and hope you are as well. I hope also you take time to read the links and comments below.
Social Determinants of Health
The social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, including the health system. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at global, national and local levels, which are themselves influenced by policy choices. The social determinants of health are mostly responsible for health inequities - the unfair and avoidable differences in health status seen within and between countries.
Responding to increasing concern about these persisting and widening inequities, the World Health Organization (WHO) established the Commission on Social Determinants of Health (CSDH) in 2005 to provide advice on how to reduce them. The Commission's final report was launched in August 2008, and contained three overarching recommendations:
- Improve daily living conditions
- Tackle the inequitable distribution of power, money, and resources
- Measure and understand the problem and assess the impact of action
The first link below summarizes a letter sent to Government by the Association of Local Public Health Agencies and is self explanatory. The second document is a great resource guide from Public Health Agency of Canada.
The following is a summary of reactions and perceptions from a workshop held in the Niagara Region facilitated by Liz Weaver from the Tamarack Institute. She started with a 5W exercise; i.e. she asked a series of five “why” questions to get participants thinking about the roots of poverty:
- Canada is a country with great wealth, so why do we have such poverty?
Summary of discussion: Because wealth is not evenly distributed and is accumulated at the top.
- Why is the wealth accumulated at the top?
Because people with wealth have power and are unwilling to give it up.
- Why do people with wealth have power and are unwilling to give it up?
Because they have direct access to the government and are allowed to be that way.
- Why do they have direct access to the government?
Because they know how to use the government to their advantage.
- Why do they use the government to their advantage?
Because we allow it to happen