What’s your favourite part of the Thanksgiving meal?  For me it’s definitely stuffing and pumpkin pie.

For many, Thanksgiving is a sad reminder that they’re unable to feed their children on any given day.

Food is connected to health. Access to healthy food is connected to income. Lack of healthy food is connected to every aspect of our lives and wellbeing.

Food insecurity, included in the Social Determinants of Health¹, is one of nine key factors contributing to poverty recognized by the UN, WHO, and most global nations. Our physical health plays a vital role in our overall well being and without it, well, the stats speak for themselves:

  • The average life expectancy of a homeless person in Canada is 39 years, half the national average².
  • Homeless youth are at increased risk of respiratory problems, dental disease, infections, and foot problems resulting from wet, cold, and exposed extremities³.
  • Investment in community health centres has a 234% return on investment by diverting people from the ER and providing more cost effective services³.

Health – or lack thereof – is our first barrier to overcoming poverty. So, how can we help?

We can do what donors, volunteers and staff did for Olivia who came to us when she was expecting her first child.

Struggling with high rent, Olivia was already skipping meals. She worried for the health of her unborn child and the added costs when her little one arrived. Olivia didn’t have the resources she needed to be healthy, so she asked for help. For her, community looked like:

  • Neighbours knitting caps, sweaters and blankets for her new baby;
  • Donations of money for staff to support Olivia and provide children’s clothing and a stroller;
  • Companies giving large volumes of formula and diapers;
  • Volunteer medical professionals at our Health Centre caring for her and her child;
  • Donations of gift cards and food to help Olivia supplement her grocery needs;
  • Her community believing in her enough that she started schooling to become a Personal Support Worker.

Today, Olivia is completing her courses and is on her way to overcoming poverty because people in her community took action and gave of their time, talent and gifts.

This is the power of community and community is God’s chosen solution to ending chronic poverty.

Do you see yourself in this story? If so, I invite you to join us and take one action. Your single action can impact the life of someone in your community, helping them find health and hope for their future.

Learn more and get involved

Learn more about Yonge Street Mission in Toronto: https://www.ysm.ca/

Volunteer opportunities across Canada: https://volunteer.ca/

Learn more about the Social Determinants of Health: https://www.who.int/social_determinants/en/

Read more Canadian Health statistics: https://www.statcan.gc.ca/eng/subjects-start/health

  1. World Health Organization. Social Determinants of Health. https://www.who.int/social_determinants/en/
  2. Trypuc and Robinson. Homeless in Canada: A Funder’s Primer in Understanding the Tragedy on Canada’s Streets. Charity Intelligence Canada, October 2009. P8. https://www.charityintelligence.ca/images/Ci-Homeless-in-Canada.pdf
  3. Elliott, April. Meeting the Health Care Needs of Street-Involved Youth. Canadian Pediatric Society, June 2013. https://www.cps.ca/documents/position/health-care-needs-of-street-involved-youth
  4. 2017 Ontario Budget Submission. Ontario Oral Health Alliance, Dec 8, 2016. Pg4.  https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.oaphd.on.ca/images/stories/pdfs/2016-12-Budget_SubmissionOOHA.pdf