Editorial column: No one should have to go hungry

Food banks should not be necessary in a rich country like Canada

Pirjo Raits Hard Pressed

The other day I was invited to the local food bank in Sooke to see how much food was collected after a short call out in the newspaper for donations.

The mound of non-perishable food was astounding and it was evidence of the generosity of people in the community. In small communities we actually see the people who need help. They are not far removed from our visuals and we cross paths with them frequently.

Sooke is no different than any other small community across the Island or across the country for that matter. There are poor people who live here. Poor — not less fortunate, under-privileged, or low income — just plain down and out poor.

While some may be poor because they don’t or can’t work, there are many others who are poor because they are under-educated and can’t find those elusive jobs out there that pay a decent living wage. It’s not entirely their fault, they have failed in some way to find that lucky break or lucky attitude that sends them on their way to the top of the pile.

We are luckier here than in the U.S. because we have a reasonable social safety net. We can get health care without going bankrupt and we can eke out a living even on social assistance or unemployment insurance. But it isn’t enough — thus the need for food banks. Food banks are shameful. In this resource rich country we live in, no one should have to go begging at a food bank.

When you see folks drinking $5 coffees and averting their eyes to the homeless and destitute, something is sadly out of whack. When people’s conversation turns to the inane – reality shows which are actually so far from reality that it is laughable; over-paid sports figures; stars dancing with each other, or even home decorating shows, it becomes evident that our society is in trouble. It’s like a mass opiate. Fill people’s heads with nonsense and they won’t know or care about what is really going on. We have come to a point where we have accepted food banks as being normal. When people are lining up to get something to eat, this signals a disfunction.

Food banks have been around for a long time, in times of economic wealth as well as downturns in the economy. If it was just now when things are a “bit slow” it would be one thing, but food banks are also there in times of affluence.

We need a little more compassion – charity does begin at home. There are so many ways one can help and it is not just about money, although that helps a lot.

Amazing volunteers give of their time and expertise, donations come from you and me thereby letting the government off the hook. Sure there are people who abuse the system whether it is a Food bank or the government but most people who come with hat in hand are hungry, or their kids are hungry.Until there is a will to fix the bigger societal problems, food banks will be necessary. No one should be going hungry.

Talking to one volunteer at the Sooke Food Bank, she said that they receive absolutely no government funding of any kind. Those legislators who make the decisions should spend some time volunteering at a food bank. Maybe then it would warm their hearts and open the collective wallet and give more to those who honestly need it. Oh, and add to the list the over-burdened and under-funded/non-funded crisis centres. You get the picture.

 

Just Posted

Canadian Coast Guard breaks ground on permanent search and rescue station in Victoria

Victoria-based SAR will do all rescues in local harbour and parts of the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Police actions under investigation following Langford arrest

IIO investigates officer-related incidents that result in serious harm

Victoria woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

Gas stations could push to 167.9 cents a litre this week

Analyst says high prices are due to supply and demand

United Way celebrates volunteers, contributors in Greater Victoria area

$4.7 million was raised in 2018 thanks to the work of hundreds of people

WATCH: Cougar saunters through Metchosin yard

Spring cougar sighting caught on camera

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Island Cup set for East Sooke on May 3-5

Off-road racing event expected to attract over 50 racers

Female real estate agents warned of suspicious man in Metro Vancouver

The man requests to see homes alone with the female agent, police say

SPCA investigating after newborn kittens found in Vancouver dumpster

The kittens were found suffering from hypothermia and dehydration

Experts butt heads in court, hunter loses case for return of ram

Despite expert testimony, judgement says ram probably underage

Most Read