Finding Local Data During COVID-19: Bruce Grey Tracks Food Insecurity

At the best of times, good local population-level data is difficult to find to inform poverty reduction efforts. With the added pressures of COVID-19, it is critical now more than ever to understand the changing face of poverty – who is in need, to what extent, what supports are available, and whether people are able to and accessing those supports. However, common data challenges roundtables face include:

  1. Inability to disaggregate data by local geographic region
  2. Inability to disaggregate data by target demographics
  3. Delays in data release (out-of-date data sets)
  4. Representativeness of the sample group
  5. Confidentiality
  6. Expense
  7. Non-collection (ex. hidden homelessness; lack of surveys)

In the midst of a pandemic, when access to census data is unrepresentative of current realities and changes are occurring rapidly, how do we find good data to guide service and program delivery and uncover policy implications? In Bruce Grey, the response is local data sharing amongst community partners and service agencies.

A new Food Bruce Grey App is capturing and sharing back food collection and distribution statistics, user demographic information and volunteer efforts across the region. The brainchild of the United Way of Bruce Grey who reached out to Nuclear Innovation Institute who brought NPX (Nuclear Promise X) on board for implementation. Meal programs and food banks are providing data. Additional support came from the Community Foundation Grey Bruce and Bruce Power to ensure all the food programs had weigh scales to add additional data points.

The Bruce Grey Food App is an innovative example of the way in which communities are harnessing private-and-non-profit partnerships in response deep-rooted poverty challenges.