Food banks no solution to poverty – comment/letter – Food banks no solution to poverty
April 19, 2008

Re:Food banks do more than satisfy hunger – April 18

The existence of food banks is the shame of any civilized society.

So, I was appalled to see a government member of the parliamentary committee on a national poverty reduction strategy getting “perked up” at the notion of food banks as “portals into other community services.”

Food banks are about poverty alleviation, not poverty reduction. They emerged out of necessity in the 1980s when employment, income and social support programs started failing too many Canadians.

They were to be short-term interventions, never the solution to poverty, and they were to go out of existence when governments assumed their proper responsibilities to assure the employment and income support needs of Canadians.

I surely hope that describing what food banks must do today out of community charity in response to the destitution of their users does not become this parliamentary committee’s public policy prescription for poverty reduction.

It would be much more promising for the committee to study other jurisdictions internationally, where national governments are setting clear targets for poverty reduction and doing things like providing affordable and decent housing so that low-income individuals and families do not have to resort to food banks after they pay the rent.

Peter Clutterbuck, Toronto

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