Food Bank Volunteers Fed Up with Government Inaction

OTTAWA, Oct. 16, 2013 – On October 17, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, food bank volunteers will walk away from their lunch lines to serve up food for thought on street corners in major cities across the country. They are asking everyday Canadians to re-consider food charity as the solution to hunger and are calling for a federal plan to address poverty.

Impromptu lunch lines will be popping up from Whitehorse to Halifax from noon until 1 p.m.—including sites at Parliament Hill in Ottawa and at Bay and King Street in Toronto’s financial district. But instead of handing out free lunch, volunteers are brown bagging a call to action for the Prime Minister. They want him to take a proactive approach to eradicating poverty and hunger for the 882,000 people who resort to food banks each month and millions of others struggling to get by. Chew on This! volunteers are joining the thousands who have endorsed Dignity for All: The Campaign for a Poverty Free Canada.

Ottawa Chew on This! participant Karen Secord is the Coordinator of the Parkdale Food Centre, one of the most innovative food banks in the Ottawa area.  She agrees that Canada can do more.

“Poverty is the reason why people are hungry. It is why they eat poor quality food in a country that is rich in good food. It is a drain on health care and education resources,” says Secord. “No one wants to be poor. As a caring society we can do so much better.”

Food banks were launched in the early 1980s as a temporary solution to hunger but were never meant as a permanent measure.

“Hunger in Canada is now clearly more than a food issue: it’s about the general cost of living in light of insufficient incomes and social supports,” says Leilani Farha, Executive Director of Canada Without Poverty. “We’re never going to solve hunger and poverty in Canada through charitable acts like food donations – we need federal leadership and an action plan.”

A national poverty action plan is the main recommendation in “Poverty Trends Highlights: Canada 2013,” a report by Citizens for Public Justice.

“The statistics show that when the federal government makes it a priority, poverty can be reduced,” says Executive Director Joe Gunn. “We need a comprehensive poverty plan. The House of Commons has called for one, the Senate has called for one, and the United Nations has called for one, but we haven’t seen any action.”

Dignity for All: the campaign for a poverty-free Canada, headed by Canada Without Poverty and Citizens for Public Justice, is a multi-year, non-partisan campaign supported by over 10,000 individuals and 600 local and national organizations calling for a comprehensive federal plan to eliminate poverty.

For further information:

Megan Yarema, Canada Without Poverty

Simon Lewchuk, Citizens for Public Justice


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