Has your family felt the pinch at the grocery store check-out, lately?

Now imagine you were living under the poverty line or on a fixed income like many of BC’s seniors (BC has the highest poverty rate for seniors in Canada!). It is estimated that almost 13% of those who rely solely on public pensions will experience food insecurity in their later years. And with an average age as high as Kelowna’s, we’re on the brink of a real problem.

What Is Food Insecurity?

Food insecurity occurs when access to a steady supply of nutritious and diet-appropriate food is interrupted, difficult to maintain, or unavailable. The Government of British Columbia considers food security one of the core tenets of its Guiding Framework on Public Health for an active and healthy life.

People on fixed incomes (such as government pension or disability), living in rural areas, unhoused people, Indigenous peoples, and female lone-parent households face the highest rates of food insecurity.

The Problem of Food Insecurity in Kelowna

Kelowna has always been a popular spot for retirees due to our warm climate and many amenities. But with the number of seniors in our community expected to double by 2040, it is vital that steps are taken now to tackle problems like food insecurity.

The ever-increasing cost of housing in the Okanagan is yet another economic hurdle for vulnerable seniors. With rent prices taking up a larger and larger percentage of seniors’ budgets, the amount left over for food and transportation costs is minimal.

Simply put, the more it costs for housing, the less money people have to spend on groceries. At Senior’s Outreach, we have been receiving numerous calls from folks who don’t drive, have no money, and need volunteers to go to the food bank for them. Some have come to rely on us to provide supplemental meals or groceries to fill in between food bank hampers. And it is a problem that does not appear to have an imminent solution.

What this means for seniors in the Central Okanagan

While economics play a large part in determining food security, they are not the only factors that influence it. Things like the shopping environment, access to transportation, and whether an individual lives alone are also strongly linked to food security.

For seniors, in particular, a lack of access to transportation, poor appetite or motivation to eat, and changing food preferences can result in not only food insecurity, but malnourishment as well. It is estimated that nearly one-third of community-based seniors (those not living in a care facility) are at risk of malnourishment—a condition that may or may not come with food insecurity.

Fortunately, there are a number of things that can help a senior maintain a more nutritious diet. The presence of family and friends during meal times, proximity to a grocery store, access to safe and reliable transportation, and food variety can all increase a vulnerable person’s access to food and appetite.

How You Can Help

At Seniors Outreach we are trying to meet the needs of the many seniors asking for help—a demand that grows exponentially over the winter months. We want seniors to maintain their dignity and feel connected and cared for. If you would like to help us in achieving this goal, consider volunteering or making a donation. Details on all the ways you can give can be found here.

If you or someone you know is in need of a helping hand with grocery shopping, housing or any number of other non-medical needs, please contact info@seniorsoutreach.ca

About Seniors Outreach

Seniors Outreach is a non-profit society, working to enhance the lives of seniors in Kelowna by providing support and linking them to necessary services. It is our mission to help vulnerable older adults to maintain their dignity and independence and to stay connected to their community and each other. Information on a wide variety of resources and services to support older adults can be found under the Programs and Services and Resource Directories tabs on our website.