Food Bank Report Calls For a National Poverty Reduction Strategy

Michelle's picture
Michelle is an intern at Make Poverty History focussing on domestic poverty issues, and government relations.

HungerCount 2010, an annual national study recently released by Food Banks Canada, shows that food bank use in Canada has been on the rise. As reported by the CBC news, food bank use across Canada has hit its highest level since 1997. According to Katharine Schmidt, executive director of Food Banks Canada, "This is a reality check. Food banks are seeing first hand that the recession is not over for a large number of Canadians."

The survey found that nearly 900, 000 people used food banks in March 2010 alone.  This is an increase of 9.2%, or more than 73, 000 people, compared to last year, and 28% higher than in 2008.

"Though the recession has made things worse, the causes of hunger and low income run much deeper than the recent economic crisis,” Schmidt was reported as saying.“The need for food banks is a result of our failure as a country to adequately address a number of social issues, including a changing job market, a lack of affordable housing and child care, and a social safety net that is ineffective."

The results of HungerCount 2010 unfortunately demonstrate how reliance on food banks across our country is increasing.  As the Christmas season approaches it is hard to imagine a time when it was not a part of the yuletide tradition to make a donation to your local food bank. But the reality is that food banks are a relatively recent phenomenon.  The first food bank in Canada was not opened until 1981, and it was only intended to be a temporary measure.  Today the number of food banks across Canada has ballooned to over 900.

The growing need for food banks is only a symptom that points to the much deeper need to address poverty in this country.  That’s why it was encouraging to see Food Banks Canada include in their report a recommendation to implement a national poverty prevention and reduction strategy.

Make Poverty History along with Dignity For All: The Campaign For a Poverty-Free Canada have been calling on the government to adopt a national poverty reduction strategy.  With the introduction in the House of Commons of Bill C-545, An Act to Eliminate Poverty in Canada, by MP Tony Martin earlier this year, we are closer than ever to making this a reality.

The HungerCount2010 report demonstrates that now is the time for a plan to reduce and ultimately eliminate poverty in Canada and we can do something about it.

What can you do?

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to write to your MP asking for them to show their support for Bill C-545, or check-out the Dignity For All campaign and join the growing list of supporters calling on the government to implement a national poverty reduction strategy.