The only way to stop the growing rate of hunger is by increasing wages, investing in income security programs, providing affordable housing and improving access to community food programs, according to a list of recommendations to be released on Monday.
The Recession Relief Coalition is releasing 10 top recommendations that are key to combatting the troubling rise of hunger in the province. They are geared toward policy-makers at all levels of government.
“Hunger and poverty are at a crisis point,” said Dr. Gary Bloch, a family physician with St. Michael’s Hospital and assistant professor with the University of Toronto, who helped draft the recommendations.
“We are facing the highest levels of food bank use and some of the highest rates of social assistance use ever,” said Bloch, noting his practice is largely comprised of people living below the poverty line and struggling for basic survival.
The recommendations were put together by a six-member panel after a full day of evidence at a hunger inquiry in late November. The panel — which also included a retired minister, celebrity chef and a housing advocate — heard from more than 30 front-line workers, social service agency staff, academics community leaders and people directly affected by hunger. The coalition’s full report is expected in January.
After decades of cutbacks to government revenues, through individual and corporate tax cuts, “a small reversal of these cuts” would provide funds for some basic social insurance programs to fight hunger and poverty, Bloch said.
“We are willing to pump ever-increasing dollars into health care, much of it to treat the health problems caused by high levels of poverty, but we seem unwilling to address the root causes of these problems,” he told the Star.
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In response to this article a fellow campaigner wrote to the Toronto Star….Hmmm – food for thought?
Re: Hunger, poverty at a ‘crisis point’
I am worried about the illusion created by the big crates full of donated food that we all see in the large grocery stores. The illusion is that this is the kind of food people receive when they go to the foodbank. The reality is that this food makes up only a tiny proportion of the food that people actually receive. Most comes from corporate donations. I use food banks. I just opened a frozen package of wieners and decided I could not even feed them to my dog – they were outdated and spoiled. This is a very common experience. I also never receive enough to get me through a week and the food I get is often high sugar, salt etc. Despite the public’s best intentions and generosity, foodbanks cannot solve the problem of chronic hunger and malnutrition. What we need is government policy and funding to address the reasons people need to go to food banks – like the fact that a single person receives a maximum of $592 from social assistance to live on for a month. I hope that all the people who care enough to donate can also see past the illusion of the overflowing crates and not let our governments hide behind charity and foodbanks as a way to address hunger.