March is National Nutrition Month

Becca Green-LaPierre, Kings Community Food Council

This year marks the 40th anniversary of National Nutrition Month in Canada! Every March, Dietitians of Canada and its supporting partners have promoted Nutrition Month as a way to have meaningful conversations about food and nutrition issues that matter to Canadians. This year’s focus is on the “ingredients” for a sustainable food system: food security, food literacy, food sovereignty, sustainable food choices, and nutrition care and prevention.

Unfortunately, these ingredients can be quite hard to come by. Food security, for example, is becoming scarce. At both national and provincial levels, the number of visits to a food bank increased from 2020 to 2021 (HungerCount, 2021). The Canadian Community Health Survey (2018) reports that over 15% of Nova Scotians experience food insecurity.

Nutrition care and prevention are also not doing too well. The prevalence of diabetes and obesity are at all-time highs. A submission to the House of Commons by the Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada (2017) reported more than half (58%) of all annual healthcare spending in Canada is for the treatment of “preventable” chronic diseases, for which a main risk factor is unhealthy eating (it’s true, alcohol is also a risk factor for many preventable diseases).

Anyway, back to Nutrition Month. A very delicious way to celebrate Nutrition Month is to take part in the GREAT BIG CRUNCH. On Thursday March 10, grab an apple and join Canadians from coast to coast as we make a (crunchy) noise to show our support for a healthy, universal, cost-shared School Food Program. Canada is one of the only industrialized countries without a national school food program and was recently ranked 37th of 41 countries around providing healthy food for kids (Coalition for Healthy School Food, 2021). Yikes. The exciting news is, successful school food programs directly improve ALL of the ingredients for a sustainable food system! Imagine, schools buying local produce, supporting local farmers, and serving said produce in salad bars to students at affordable prices, with opportunities for students to grow and prepare some of the food they’ll get to eat for lunch. Those sound like good ingredients to me, so grab your apple and make some noise!

Becca Green-LaPierre is a founding member of Kings County Community Food Council. The Council’s Vision is to have a sustainable, local food system in Kings County, where everyone has access to enough nutritious, safe, ecological and culturally-appropriate food. For more information on our work and how you can get involved please contact us!