From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests; you cannot subvert your neighbor's rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own. Carl Schurz

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Should We Just Up And Close Food Banks ?

That's what Elaine Power, an associate professor at Queen’s and some one who has spent more than a decade researching hunger and volunteering at food banks, recommended in her column that appeared in Monday's Globe and she is not alone in that belief.
Food banks have become a serious obstacle in the fight against poverty. By promising to “end hunger” by feeding hungry Canadians, they provide a comforting illusion that no one is hungry – or if they are, it’s their own fault. They shelter us from the harsh reality that millions lack the basic necessities of life.
She is bang on in her assessment that Food Banks let us all off the hook citizen,corporation and government alike. Not only do they not treat the disease of hunger, they don't even tackle the symptoms in any real way. Despite being staffed by caring and dedicated people, due to a lack of donated supplies and of course ever increasing demand they still for the most part only supply 2-3 days of food a month to each of the approximately 900,000 Canadians who turn to Food Banks every month.

So is her prescription the right one,I don't know, but what I do know is that we are failing in our duty to ensure no one goes hungry in this supposed land of plenty.

A Basic Living Income coupled with a Housing Benefit  both of which have been studied and appear to be workable and affordable could in all likelihood eliminate hunger in Canada altogether. 

Here are some stats on Food Bank use from Hunger Count 2010

Working Poor
People with jobs constitute the third largest group of food bank clients, at 11.4%. The loss of full-time jobs during the recent recession and the expansion of the low-wage economy has generated more working poor who are unable to meet basic needs for themselves and their families.

In 2010, 37.8% of food bank clients were under 18. Child poverty has remained at the same level for two decades, despite the fact that the federal government commited to end child poverty by the year 2000.

Families with children
Over half of households who turn to a food bank for assistance are families with children. More than half of this number are single parent families, with 80% those headed by women The single parent family is still one of Canada's most economically vulnerable groups.

Rural Canadians About half of the food banks participating in HungerCount 2010 are located in rural communities (defined as having populations of fewer than 10,000 people).

Persons With Disabilities
Those receiving disability income supports now make up the second largest group of food bank users, according to the 2010 HungerCount report (15%). Disability support is not enough to help the disabled provide for themselves. These numbers are only going to worsen ,since Canada has a rapidly aging society and life expectancy is increasing.

Seniors accessing food banks across Canada is a sad reality. HungerCount 2010 reports that seniors accounted for 7.2 % of adults assisted by food banks in a typical month.

Recipients of Social Assistance
In 2010, 50.5% of those assisted by food banks in Canada were receiving social assistance. This suggests that social assistance rates in Canada are not sufficient to ensure food security for low-income Canadians. According to the National Council of Welfare, welfare rates across Canada continue to fall below Statistics Canada Low Income Cut-Offs.

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