Food hampers from food banks were found to be deficient in nutrients or calories, and may not do much to promote the health of the deprived in the province, researchers from University of Ontario said.
The study available in Canadian Journal of Public Health, examined 180 food hampers, sourced from a well established food bank located in southwestern Ontario. The finding revealed that 99 per cent of the hampers, meant to last three days, contained calories sufficient for only 1.6 days.
When comparing the findings against the stipulations of the Canada food guide to healthy eating ,the hampers were found to fall short of requirements in four food groups, having met the requirement only in the 'grain and cereal group'. The diet did not include enough dairy and meat products, fruits and vegetables, or vitamins and minerals like vitamin B12 and calcium.
The food banks seem to be the only resort to an estimated 820,600 Canadians, of whom 40% are children. The prolonged shortfall in calories and nutrients could cause long term health problems, researchers said.
However, food banks are not to be blamed for this situation, researchers said. The food banks rely on donations and services from volunteers. The need of the hour is to put government policies in order and address the issue at the government level, so that food banks are better equipped to spruce up the quality of food hampers.