Healing Gaia

Support Food Banks, but Also Support Making Them Obsolete

Food banks were meant to be a short-term support but have become the mainstay for too many of our neighbours living below the poverty line.

By Doreen Nicoll
Published December 08, 2014

'Tis the holiday season, a time for giving and sharing with those less fortunate than ourselves. It's an admirable gesture and well worth doing.

For many of us, it's as simple as going to our overflowing pantries and choosing a few canned goods that will never be missed. Then we send them to the school food drive or the local food bank.

Thank you to the thousands of volunteers who sort, ship and distribute the much-needed food at this time of year. You touch many lives and for that I'm grateful.

Thanks to all of you who share your good fortune with others in your community. So, please, while you're enjoying that warm fuzzy feeling that we all get from giving and teaching our children to share, consider these alarming facts:

Don't get me wrong: please continue to give and give generously when so many are going without at this time of year. But then sit down and write a holiday card to your MP asking them to: explain their party's plan to implement a living wage for all working Canadians; increase the number of full-time jobs with benefits; establish a national housing strategy; and create a national child care strategy.

Since you have pen in hand, send a card to your MPP, Regional Chair, and City Counsellor asking if 2015 will be the year that they make Ontario a living wage province.

How about increasing Ontario Disability Support Program and Ontario Works monthly payments by $24.50 ($295 annually) so that recipients can purchase the food that they currently get from food banks, or better still, healthier foods of their choosing.

Food banks were meant to be a short-term solution for individuals and families needing a little help while they got back on their feet financially.

Instead, food banks have become the mainstay for too many of our neighbours on social assistance, or those working full time but earning below the poverty line, and even our so called middle class.

It's time to rip that band-aid off and replace it with a comprehensive plan to improve the quality of life for everyone living in Canada and not just at the holidays.

I am eternally grateful to the people who donated food and to the people working at the food banks that fed me and my children from November 2006 to March 2007 while I was experiencing situational poverty after paying for a 19 day divorce trial and awaiting child support payments.

Doreen Nicoll is a feminist and a member of several community organizations working diligently to end poverty, hunger and gendered violence.


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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted December 08, 2014 at 19:56:02

One does not have to be a professional Accountant (which I am) in order to be disturbed at governments that attempt to offload their core responsibilities onto private charities.

Recently I was solicited for a donation to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Health care is, of course, a key government responsibility, so this was quite disturbing.

What's next? The City government asking for donations for sewer maintenance? Or the Hell's Angels conducting a fund-raising drive to enable Hamilton Police to fund its police salaries payroll costs?

Perhaps I should not say things like that too loudly lest they come to pass. :)

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By scrap (anonymous) | Posted December 09, 2014 at 11:35:25

Foodbanks are a bandaid which do not fulfill the need. Foodbanks must be eliminated.

Writing letters, petitions have fallen on deaf ears, it does not work.

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By Thadius (anonymous) | Posted December 10, 2014 at 17:38:57

I work hard for my money. I made good choices in my life to live as comfortabley as I do now. I have compassion for those less fortunate and am always willing to help someone out.

But I don't owe anyone anything. Don't confuse my compassion for weakness or a "Sucker" sign on my forehead. And never ever demand I am to do such and such because you decree it to be so.

It's people like you that caused me to cut way back on my charitable giving once I came to realized what a massive skimming operation much of the poverty industry is.

That the author is a "feminist," "diligently working to eradicate gendered violence," my God, that's just the icing on the cake. Do something that's truly productive in this world, lady. Invent things, make things, discover things. Create jobs and wealth that will lift people out of their impoverishment. Don't be just another parasite in this world.

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