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Dear politicians: to solve our food bank crisis, curb corporate greed and implement a basic income

The use of food banks has skyrocketed. Here Prime Minister Justin Trudeau helps prepare a food box at Seva Food Bank in Mississauga, Ont., on Nov. 4, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin

Have you noticed the line ups for the food banks in your city? (Or have you had to join one?) They are getting longer in a way we’ve never seen before.

According to the stats, the number of people using food banks has doubled since last year and one in 10 people now rely on food banks in Toronto. Nationwide, the numbers using food banks have jumped by 32 percent from last year and 78 per cent since 2019. And there is no one type of person who relies on food banks: for example, many in line have full-time jobs.

In other words, we are in the middle of a major food insecurity crisis. And as we head into this holiday season, traditionally a time for giving and sharing and gathering around food, many of us are asking what we as individuals can do to help.

According to the latest Statistics Canada data, almost one in five households experiences food insecurity. Single-mother households are especially affected, as are some racialized homes. Black and Indigenous people face the highest rates of food insecurity, with over 46 per cent of Black children and 40 per cent of Indigenous children living in households that don’t have a reliable source of food.

For years, advocates have been saying that more food banks is not the answer. So what is?

Our guest on this episode of Don’t Call Me Resilient podcast is Elaine Power, professor of health studies at Queen’s University and co-author of The Case for Basic Income: Freedom, Security, Justice. She has spent years working on this issue and says reducing food insecurity requires our political and business leaders to address the root causes — including the ability of household incomes to meet basic needs. She gets into what is needed, long-term, to solve this major societal problem — but also shares tips for individuals who want to make a difference in the meantime.

People waiting during the pandemic to get food from Daily Bread food bank in Toronto, November 2020. (Mostofa Mohiuddin/Shutterstock)

Read more in The Conversation

Read more: Food insecurity in Canada is the worst it’s ever been — here’s how we can solve it

Read more: Implementing a basic income means overcoming myths about the ‘undeserving poor’

Read more: Why are babies going hungry in a food-rich nation like Canada?

Resources

“What is Food Insecurity? FoodShare’s Paul Taylor Explains (Plus What Canadians Can Do About It)” (The Food Network)

“When it comes to tackling food insecurity, tackling anti-Black racism is an important part of the puzzle” (by Tim Li)

The Case for Basic Income: Freedom, Security, Justice by Jamie Swift and Elaine Power

“Dismantling the structures and sites that create unequal access to food” (Paul Taylor and Elaine Power in Canadian Food Studies)

The Age of Insecurity: Coming Together as Things Fall Apart (Astra Taylor)

A summary of a PROOF report on household food insecurity.

A report on PROOF’s analysis and recommendations.

Ategah Khaki, Jennifer Moroz and Vinita Srivastava
Ategah Khaki, Jennifer Moroz and Vinita Srivastava
 
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