Hot! Food banks: Don’t stop at giving

TheStar.com – Opinion/Editorial
Published On Sat Oct 09 2010

Ana Solis came to Toronto as a refugee from Mexico with just a few dollars in her pocket. She quickly got a job and started a new life. But a year later she, like many others working in factories, was laid off. Hunger brought her to The Stop Community Food Centre.

Today, Solis is a TTC driver who owns her own home. She was determined to overcome the challenges in her path and she did. But without the help she received from The Stop, her story could have turned out much differently.

Each month, tens of thousands of people in the Greater Toronto area rely on food banks for a hamper of groceries and, increasingly, programs to lift themselves out of poverty. But a food bank can’t help anyone without first receiving help from us.

Food banks represent the best and worst in our society. It is inspiring that so many give so generously to keep the shelves of food banks across Ontario from going bare. But it is appalling that such individual altruism is needed to overcome our collective failure to address this most basic need through government programs.

These are difficult economic times — so difficult for some that 1.2 million food hampers were handed out in the GTA last year. But Daily Bread, the largest food bank, has been able to meet the need thanks to the unending generosity of Torontonians.

Now, however, with only a week to go in the fall drive, Daily Bread is well short of collecting the $500,000 in cash and 500,000 pounds of food it needs to see the needy through the coming months.

This weekend many of us will be shopping for food and preparing a Thanksgiving feast to share with family and friends. One of the best ways to give thanks for what we have is by helping others.

So, please, fill a grocery bag with nutritious, non-perishable food. Drop it off at any fire hall or Loblaws before Oct. 18. Cash donations, vital to ensure fresh produce is added to food hampers, can be made online at www.dailybread.ca

Give what you can to help others. But don’t stop there: talk to your politicians. Ask them why food banks, charities and churches have become so critical in the lives of those who cannot get decent jobs. Urge them to take action on affordable housing, inadequate welfare rates and an employment insurance system that provides no help to many jobless workers in Ontario.

It is poverty that drives people to a food bank and that is what we must tackle. Until that happens, though, poor children, adults and seniors will continue to rely on the generosity of Torontonians.

< http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/article/872467–food-banks-don-t-stop-at-giving >

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