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Posts tagged ‘put food in the budget’

Poverty Groups Want Province to Raise Food Supplement


Queen’s Park Bureau Chief

Ontario anti-poverty activists are pushing the provincial government to invest in a $100-a-month healthy food supplement for social assistance recipients.

At a “Put Food in the Budget” rally Thursday in front of the Queen’s Park building that houses the finance ministry, dozens of activists called for the measure to be included in the upcoming spring budget.

Anglican Bishop Linda Nicholls, speaking on behalf of 80 parishes representing over 30,000 Anglicans, said the deficit-plagued government doesn’t have to necessarily spend more but rather should adjust its priorities to ensure the poor have enough to eat.

An estimated 400,000 Ontarians rely on food banks, both those who are on social assistance and the working poor.

Nicholls said she was one of many prominent Ontarians who attempted to live on the “poverty diet” provided by food banks.

“I was shocked at how quickly within a day or two you began to feel not well. No fresh fruit. No fresh vegetables,” Nicholls said.

Tracy Mead, a social assistance recipient and member of the South Riverdale Health and Strength Action Group in Toronto, said the support payments don’t go far enough to buy fresh food.

To read more, CLICK HERE!

Liberals Urged to ‘Put Food in the Budget’

Laurie Monsebraaten Social Justice Reporter

Back in 1995, the opposition Liberals scorned the Mike Harris government’s so-called “welfare diet,” which purported to show that a single person on social assistance could eat for $90 a month.

Today that meagre Tory shopping list — which included pasta but no sauce and bread but no butter — costs $48 more. And yet since the Liberals took office in 2003, a single able-bodied person on welfare gets just $29 more in their monthly cheque for food.

“It’s no wonder food bank use in Ontario is soaring,” said social policy expert John Stapleton, who used the 1995 shopping list to buy the welfare diet at a Scarborough discount grocery store in January.

It is one more reason anti-poverty activists across the province are calling on Finance Minister Dwight Duncan to put a $100 monthly food supplement for welfare recipients in this spring’s provincial budget.

On Thursday, the Toronto Anglican Diocese is highlighting the need at a Queen’s Park rally. About 80 area parishes, representing more than 30,000 Anglicans, are backing the call for the Liberals to “put food in the budget.” They will be joined by food activists from other faiths and representatives from 30 other Ontario communities who are also concerned about rising hunger across the province.

To read more, CLICK HERE!

March 10 Rally

The day was wet but we were not discouraged! The finance minister, Dwight Duncan did agree to meet with a couple of people and has agreed to a future meeting with some key people from the Anglican church and Put Food in the Budget!

The Speakers at the Rally!

Michael Prue – NDP

Cheri DiNovo – NDP

Emma Frees – The Stop

Tracy Mead – Health and Strength Action Group

Elin Goulden – Anglican Church

The Rt. Rev. Linda Nicholls- Anglican Church

Rev Andrea Budgey- Anglican Church

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s for Dwight Duncan Day:  On February 14th at 11:15 in the morning a cherubic delegation delivered almost 300 Valentines to Andrew Chornenky, Press Secretary to Dwight Duncan. We know that over the course of the day Finance Minister Duncan received several hundred more (over 1100) and acknowledged these in a post on Dwight Duncan’s Blog. You will see there are many additional comments on the blog responding to Dwight Duncan. Please add yours! If you click here you can see Susan Bender presenting the Valentines on behalf of the delegation. At the very end you can see Emma Frees point out to Andrew the negative health consequences of poverty.

November 15th – Do the Math at the Barns

Yes, I’m going back a bit, but I’ve fallen behind in posting – so I’m going to get all caught up now… thank you Dreamwalker for the push! lol 🙂

$100.00 Choir

$100.00 Choir

Put Food in the Budget Rally November 15th, 2010 – Opening remarks from Mike Balkwill.

Rally to Put Food in the Budget – Speakers

Rally to Put Food in the Budget – Speakers, Part II

The %100.00 Choir!

Giving Dwight Duncan the LOVE!

This Valentines day we are all sending Dwight Duncan a lovely valentine to show him our love!!!  For all he has done to support and help folks that live in poverty, while he lives high on the hog.

Grab yourself a valentine!  You can copy and paste to an email, or download using the link below each picture!  The more the merrier!!

They can be printed off and mailed so that you can add to them… pasted on his office windows..get creative!

Let’s make sure on Feb 14th that he feels all our love!




And this final version – print it off and write what you like on it… mail it?


Dear Honourable Duncan:

Poverty is bad for our health and bad for the economy.  Welfare (OW) and Disability (ODSP) income support programs do not provide enough money for people to be able to eat a healthy diet and to live with dignity. A single person cannot live on a maximum of $592/month. A poor diet  and  the stress caused by not having enough money to make ends meet leads to much higher rates of heart disease, diabetes and many other health problems. Poverty costs our health care system about $2.9 billion annually.

In this budget, do something to change this situation. Ontario does not need to have corporate tax rates 15% below the American rate by 2013. We do need you to Put Food in the Budget! Allocate funds so the government can immediately introduce a $100 Healthy Food Supplement for all adults on social assistance.




Hon. Dwight Duncan, M.P.P (Windsor-Tecumseh)
Constituency Office
2825 Lauzon Parkway [map]
Suite #211
Windsor ON N8T 3H5

Phone: 519-251-5199
Fax: 519-251-5299

If you wish to contact Hon. Dwight Duncan as the Minister of Finance

The Honourable Dwight Duncan – Minister of Finance and Chair of Management Board of Cabinet
7 Queen’s Park Crescent
7th floor
Toronto, ON, M7A 1Y7
Phone: (416) 325-0400
Fax: (416) 325-0374
E-mail:, or visit


Hunger, Poverty at a ‘Crisis Point’

Isabel Teotonio
Staff Reporter

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.

To read more, CLICK HERE!

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.


Nov 15 Put Food in the Budget Rally Report Back

What a truly fun night!  I don’t know where to start!  …. yes, I know…at the beginning. lol

First… I met Bill King and Stacey Bulmer outside as they got out of their cab.  I knew it had to be them, given that they were carting around music equipment.  lol  See?  I’m sooo observant!  They were fantastic!  What a dynamic team!  Both of them could really sing, and I mean REALLY sing!  Their personalities were absolutely gorgeous!  We began by practicing the song we were to do later, and Stacey’s enthusiasm was so catching that it pretty much set the mood for the night!

Fred Hahn was there, and I just adore that man!  Fred is with CUPE Ontario here and he is just one of the most wonderful, funny, passionate humans I know.  I loved him right off when I first met him – picking up his food for the Do the Math Challenge.  So of course, I asked him to sing with us and he agreed…as I knew he would!  He’s up for any kind of fun!!!

I had to make a speech and I was dead nervous.  I was quite convinced I would just die up there… but it went ok and I think it was in a huge way because of Fred. lol  I got to sit beside him and he had me giggling like crazy.  He also started applauding me half through my speech… and, well, words cannot describe how much I appreciated him!  I got tons of support from friends before going!  lol  I even got some links to websites that offered to hypnotize me so that I wouldn’t have this fear of public speaking!!!  I got sexy pix posted for me, for my distraction… that may not have helped AT the speech, but it sure made me forget about doing it BEFORE the speech. LOL

I’m very lucky to have such wonderful, loving supportive people in my life.  So, speech over… we got to sing all together and that was a riot!  We had about ten of us up there on stage and what a gang. lol  Everyone was being all goofy and that made it much easier to do.

A lot of really great people spoke, and had terrific things to share and ideas.  Archbishop Colin Johnson,  Diana Stapleton – Weston Food Bank, MY Fred Hahn – CUPE,  Avvy Go – Colour of Poverty, and myself… then we had some great music!  Bill King wrote a song with his wife about spousal abuse… really quite something.  Empowering… And we saw a few more speakers… then Bill and Stacey did another song.  They are trying to bring back the feeling that bands used to be like in the 60’s…fighting for what’s right and fair.  Activist songs.  It was really a great tune and they’re getting other musicians in on it… proceeds going to help the cause.

All in all a fantastic night.  I’m proud of myself for doing what I said I would.  I may not have been perfect, but for my first time, I’m pretty impressed.  In school I always told my teachers…just go ahead and give me a zero on that.  I won’t be doing it.   🙂

And really… huge thanks to Susan B… she is an inspiration to me.  I guess she’s become somewhat of a role model for me.  Since I met her I’ve done all sorts of things that I never foresaw.  I’m learning and doing things I’m proud of.  Thank the Goddess I met her!!!  😉

November 15th, Rally! Do the Math Challenge

Click on poster to see a larger image.

Click here to follow Put Food in the Budget!

Click here to see the Events Page on Facebook!

What Does it Mean to Me?

I’ve been asked to speak at the rally on November 15th.  Put Food in the Budget and The Stop are holding a rally to wrap up the October Do the Math Challenge.  We are going to have speakers and music and someone is creating a slide show.  There were 350 people last year, so I’m really nervous and not sure yet that I can do it. LOL  I’m sure I’ll pass out and die..right there… :S

I’ve been asked to speak to the question of *what this campaign means to me*.

I’m on Social Assistance, so that makes me an expert on this topic.  No one can survive on the amount of money you are given on social assistance, so local services become very important.  I discovered that location is everything.  I recently moved to Scarborough.  I was living downtown.  I used to walk to a church winter program called *Out of the Cold*.  We would make breakfast each morning through the week and dinner on weekend nights.  I can no longer access these services as I would need $6.00 for each trip and I would have to travel long before 6 am.  The bus service here doesn’t start until 6:45.  I would go and eat and they often handed out food to take home.  I can’t go to any of the food banks or drop ins that I used to use because they are based on your address.  These are the reasons I had food before my move.

I got involved with South Riverdale Community Health Centre a year ago.  We created a group called the Health and Strength Action Group.   I started volunteering there because Social Assistance gives you an additional $100.00 if you can prove you volunteer somewhere.  It’s supposed to be for transportation – for a metro pass that costs more than $100.00, but I use it for food.  I was skeptical when I first joined.  Yes, it all sounded good in theory – the fact that all humans have rights and should be allowed to eat, to have dignity, and health so I decided to stick with it.  I used to feel ashamed of being on social assistance.  If anyone asked where I worked I would tell them and quickly change the topic, avoiding eye contact, avoiding the scornful look that was sure to follow.  I know that people think recipients are lazy, living off the system, and they have no desire to work – I even believed it.  My self confidence, self esteem and self worth didn’t exist.  In the beginning I was embarrassed to talk about this campaign.  I thought I had no right to ask for the things we were demanding.

Since then I’ve been to rallies, handed out fliers, put up posters, attended meetings, spoken and sang in public, and I’ve listened.  I’ve listened to all the people that now surround me and they are saying I have a right to eat a healthy diet.  They are telling me that I’m a person and I count.  I was at the first Do the Math report back, at the Barns, last year and to say that my eyes have since been opened is an understatement.  In the year that has passed I truly understand how diet plays a key role in your mental and physical health.  Watching the Do the Math Challenge unfold this time around has been astounding.  Being involved in this campaign I have seen the changes, the solidarity and growing support, and I’ve seen opinions and misconceptions shift toward empathy and understanding once knowledge is gained about the harsh reality of trying to survive on social assistance.  All of Ontario is saying the same things that I’ve been hearing all year!  Imagine, it might just be true!  Living on Social Assistance doesn’t have to be so painful and people in over 20 communities in and around Toronto will tell you that this is the case!  The government would have us believe there is no money for feeding the people that vote them into office, or that they would have to choose between programs and someone else would have to do without.  Apparently it isn’t important that you have strong, confident, healthy citizens that can contribute to society.  The people don’t agree.

Being a part of this campaign means that I can hold my head up.  I don’t feel ashamed and I believe with every fiber of my being that all people deserve food.  It’s a basic right.  I know I’m not alone anymore, and I walk with my self respect, my self esteem and my self worth in tact.  I walk with all the people who are involved in this campaign, the people that are fighting for change.  It gives me strength and confidence to know that people actually care.   It took years for people to build up these biased notions of people wanting to be on assistance because it’s easier than working and it may take just as long to reverse this thinking and bring about change, but change is what we need because people are starving.  Ask yourself if you could survive on $585.00 a month, take the math challenge, then try to look me in the eye and honestly say everything is ok.

What this campaign means to me is that people will be able to eat, they will be able to make healthy choices for their diets.  It means that food banks will no longer be a necessity to survival.  Winning this campaign means that we can all hold our heads high.  I’m proud to be a part of this fight and I demand change.  I also hope there’s no need to hold another rally next year!

Put Food in the Budget!

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