The festive season is over, but the need for generosity remains.
Each year beginning in late November and running through December, numerous food drives, fundraising initiatives and other measures are held to support food banks and help those around us who are in need.
These efforts are essential, and they help organizations in our community and around the province as they assist those in need. But poverty, hunger and food insecurity are not seasonal or temporary problems.
Each month, more than 80,000 people in British Columbia, including 10,000 seniors, receive assistance from food banks in this province. In addition, 496,000 meals are provided through shelters, soup kitchens and school lunches.
Hunger is not limited to impoverished neighbourhoods in large urban areas. It is an issue in communities of all sizes and parts of this province. And it is a problem that is not going away.
Nationwide, around 10 per cent of Canadians live below the poverty line, and more than 1.3 million food bank visits a month were recorded over the past year. The number of food bank visits has increased by more than 20 per cent since 2019.
Across Canada, children comprise more than one-third of those who need the services of a food bank, and 19 per cent of Canadian households with children experienced food insecurity in 2020.
These figures and statistics are chilling and disturbing. Hunger and poverty should be unthinkable in a country as wealthy as Canada.
There is a need for long-term solutions and strategies to address these issues. This will involve plenty of discussion and dialogue. However, the immediate focus must be to assist those in need.
The spirit of caring seen during the festive season was impressive and inspiring, and it helped to meet a need during some of the coldest days of the year. This same spirit of generosity can help those around us make ends meet throughout the year.