Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Opinion piece blaming food banks misses the point

It's time to close Canada's food banks - The Globe and Mail
Elaine Power may be an associate professor, but that doesn't mean she isn't on crack.
In her piece (link above)l, she goes to town blaming food banks for various problems and says they should be closed.
What she misses out in her piece are solutions, and the fact that they do more good open than closed.

Food banks exist because of a failure of support by the government. Not everyone can rely on family members when they get in a rut. If people had proper basic support to live while in between jobs, then they wouldn't need food banks.

From the comments on this article:
A delegation of Swedish adult educators visited Victoria several years ago.

When I showed them a community garden, they asked what happened to the produce and I said it went to food banks.

They asked what food banks were! They don't have food banks in Sweden.

I said the produce went to food banks for the unemployed and people on welfare or low wages.

were astounded that the Canadian welfare system did not provide living
wages or welfare levels - and that food banks provided , on a charity
basis, the basic food supply of the disadvantaged!

Interesting article. Will the author be the one to tell the mom's who
come in with hungry kids - 'Sorry, food bank is closed. No food for you
anymore. We're hoping closing them will bring about a change in policy
that will be better for you in the long run but 'till then may I direct
you and your kids to that dumpster over there...'

I don't know if
they should be closed or not but I feel there should be something in
place for people (especially kids) who need food BEFORE you pull the rug
out from under them.

I know I'll get all the flame warriors now
saying it's their own fault, they should get a job, etc. but tell that
to a hungry 6 year old.


The main assumption of this article, that
the intended purpose of the food bank is to end hunger, is false. As
such, the article is irrelevant and meaningless.

The food bank is
supposed to serve two purposes: a stop-gap measure for those who are
willing to use it as such, and a means by which individuals or families
that need help beyond the food bank can be identified and helped
(assuming they want help). The food bank cannot do more than this, nor
is that the intention (except by some misguided volunteers, apparently).

was at a point in my life once when I had no option but to use a food
bank. For one year I had to live off of welfare, which let me either
pay my bills or buy food, but not both. The food bank allowed me to
survive during this time and let me get past the point where I needed
its services. I now donate regularly to the food bank in the hope that I
can help out even one other person who might be in the same situation I
was. My story is not unique.

Yes, food banks will be abused.
That is part of the cost of their existence. The real question is not
whether or not food banks help people get through difficult times, not
whether or not they will be able to end hunger, and not even whether or
not people will abuse “the system.” The real question is whether or not
even one person will be helped to get past their circumstances, and if
so then what value is that to the rest of society?

Until big business and governments accept the concept of reasonable
wages and pay reasonable wages to workers, there will be a need for food

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