Board game captures poverty struggles of many Nova Scotians

Click to play video: 'Experts say rising poverty levels in Nova Scotia impacting health care system' Experts say rising poverty levels in Nova Scotia impacting health care system
WATCH ABOVE: Poverty educators and researchers invited political party candidates to play a board game that puts participants in the shoes of those living in poverty. Alexa MacLean reports. – May 26, 2017

Nutritious food plays a critical role in any healthy lifestyle but according to food security experts at Mount Saint Vincent University, many Nova Scotians struggle to afford food at all.

“Nutrition has a huge impact on health outcomes and if you can’t afford food, if you can’t afford a healthy diet, your health is going to suffer,” said Jennifer Brady, an assistant professor of Applied Human Nutrition at Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU) in Halifax.

Brady is one of several food security experts who led an interactive event that was aimed at putting participants in the shoes of low-income Nova Scotians.

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They achieved this goal through a board game called, The Hand You’re Dealt.

“They get a hand of cards and they have to play the cards on their mat and have to fit within their predetermined budget and still try and afford food at the end of the month,” said Meredith Bessey, a member of the Food Action Research Centre at MSVU.

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Organizers invited candidates from all political parties running in the Nova Scotia election to engage them in discussion on the financial and health barriers many people deal with on a daily basis.

“We know that the social determinants of health have the biggest impact on health outcomes. Of those social determinants of health, income is the number one predictor of health outcomes. So, if we know that income is the biggest determinant of health outcomes, poverty is a real problem for health outcomes,” said Brady.

Candidates from the Progressive Conservatives, NDP, Green and the Atlantica Party shared their thoughts on poverty with the audience, after they played the game.

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The Liberals were the only party that didn’t have a candidate attend.

Bessey says the goal of the food security event is to inform people of the realities of poverty in Nova Scotia and how it impacts the health care system.

It is a reality she says needs to be an election issue and adequately addressed in the legislature.

“We think that the provincial government can have a big role in implementing these kinds of [supports] increasing the minimum wage, changing the income assistance levels,” Bessey said.

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