Good to Know Letters & Opinion

Nutrition as an Investment in Community

Cooked mixed veggies
Submitted to Just Sayin' Caledon

JSC extends our thanks to Nancy Polsinelli, Commissioner of Health Services, Region of Peel for this excellent piece that explains how nutrition is at the centre of many Peel Region programs and is necessary investment for building a Community for Life.

With March ending, which is recognized as Nutrition Month, I’ve been reflecting on how this essential element of quality of life has impacted my career. I began as a Registered Dietitian, an occupation that led me to the health sector, first as a consultant, then as an in-house dietitian at William Osler Health System. I then joined Peel Region as a manager and director in a municipal long-term care home before becoming Commissioner of Health Services.

We don’t always associate nutrition as a core function of municipal government, but Peel Region programs are supporting nutrition at every stage of life. For example, Public Health programs support the nutritional needs of mothers and babies, as well as informing school programs that enhance children’s nutrition and understanding of healthy lifestyles. Our five municipal, non-profit long-term care homes and Adult Day programs provide nutritious meals for seniors. And now, in our emotion-centred approach to care, we use shared meal preparation and eating as an activity that builds connection.

Peel Region is also responding to dramatically rising food insecurity in the current affordability crisis. Registered Dietitians within Peel Public Health’s Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention team monitor food insecurity and inform community responses. They are an important source of knowledge in the partnerships between Peel Region Health Services, Human Services and community groups, such as the Peel Poverty Reduction Committee and the Peel Food Action Council.

In response to dramatically rising food bank use, Peel Regional Council invested in a Food Security Capital and Innovation Fund. By working with and through community partners, a $4 million investment has funded 17 food providers in providing 3.9 million pounds of food in 2023. There is more work to do on food security, but this investment in trucks, freezers, and other infrastructure has long-term benefits, such as the ability to distribute more fresh and frozen foods.

Nutrition is an investment that supports health, growth, and emotional wellness – and is central to our work of building a Community for Life in Peel Region.

Sincerely,

Nancy Polsinelli, RD HBSc MPA

Commissioner of Health Services, Region of Peel

 

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Just Sayin' Caledon

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