Food security means not only having access to food, but also having access to skills, tools and information that ensures food is being consumed in a healthful way. Sure, one can sustain off of day-old pastries and chemically laden, packaged foodstuffs but in a diet like this, there is little nutrition that will help the body and brain function optimally.
The Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House, a small community centre on East Hastings, recognizes the empowering nature of food and offers programs and classes to spread food knowledge and power. And in order to help get the word out about food related issues, they've started publishing a zine, The Right to Food Zine.
Published every three or so months, the Right to Food Zine is full of articles, interviews and recipes for a tight budget, and it looks at food issues facing DTES residents, like gentrification in the form of high end cafes, or the Save on Meats sandwich tokens.
The zine focuses on how materially poor people shouldn’t be forced to sacrifice their health or food preferences because they rely on donations for food. That is why at the DTES NH, the food that participants work with does not include refined sugars, gluten or chemicals and donors and potential donors are educated before dropping off yesterday’s donuts.
The DTES NH also provides a number of programs that aim to empower often materially poor and financially unstable households so that families, seniors and children are empowered in their food choices. Programs like Chinese Elders Community Kitchen and Nutritional Outreach which provides healthy smoothies on days people are often more vulnerable to hunger.
The Right to Food Zine is an important little zine, and not just for the materially poor, but for everyone who wants to know more about the power of food.
Follow Elecia on Twitter @Elecia_C!