Is it time to abolish food banks altogether?
“Summer is a hard time for food banks,” says Robert Thorpe, who runs the Parkdale Community Food Bank in downtown Toronto.
His two main sources of food are Daily Bread and Second Harvest, both of which tell him that their cupboards are pretty bare.
A couple of years ago, his operation was mainly serving people on welfare, disability support programs and those with mental health issues. More recently, the lines have been supplemented by laid-off factory workers, information technology staff and people with administrative jobs.
“This is a group that, up until that point in their lives, had solid and stable sources of income. And for them, to get into a food bank line, was very mortifying,” he told the Toronto Star.
The piece is a quick reminder that money is tight in lots of areas and that maybe people could do a bit more – unless they listen to Elaine Power, a professor at Queen’s University who has spent a lot of time helping out at various food banks.
To her way of thinking, helping to feed Canadians this way merely provides a comforting illusion that no one is really hungry – or if they are, it’s their own fault.
Food banks actually shelter us from the harsh reality that millions lack the basic necessities of life, she argues, and should be banished.
Here’s her complete argument.
Are private food banks really such a bad thing? Have you made use of their services? Should governments be doing more?
Posted by: Jason | Aug 2, 2021 9:01:37 AM
wow how could someone say such a thing .Talk about removed from reality.Does not deserve the title of professor!
Posted by: Wendy | Aug 2, 2021 12:58:48 PM
food banks probably going to need more help, given that governments are up to the hilt in debt, and the US uncertainty ( will it cause another recession?);. you can bet they are not going to step up to the plate to make sure people have food. Wonder what she is smoking these days??
Posted by: Judi | Aug 3, 2021 6:09:11 PM
The professionals who are now mortified at having to get help from the food bank should have thought to put away money for a "rainy day". Many have huge houses and mortgages and are in debt to the eyeballs. These people are now taking food from the mouths of the very poor, sick and handicapped! The food bank came into existence because a lot of people on welfare, disability and the working poor just did not get enough money to survive. It is getting harder to survive every day....So where are these people to get food to tide them over until their next meagre check comes in? Abolish food banks and then what? The government is going to increase payments to these people so that they can live above the poverty level....I don't think so!!!
Posted by: Kim | Aug 3, 2021 10:52:14 PM
Maybe Ontario's Primer should think about cancelling the Bridge to Nowhere and put that 2 million into helping to stock these food banks. Or Geesh, supply clean water to reserves without any. IF this woman or anyone else thinks abolishing food banks is the answer, they need to give their heads a shake or try going without food and see how they like it. Put their kids to bed hungry. Have them go to school without breakfast because there is not enough money to buy bread, cereal or milk. Give me a break!! Food banks are a necessity now a days!!
Posted by: Route66 | Aug 4, 2021 12:23:55 AM
I understand what she is saying. When people have the option of going to a foodbank, they have the illusion that they are no longer hungry. She figures that if we take away the foodbanks, people will go hungry, but it won't be an illusion. This in turn will convince them that they are truly living in poverty. A better idea is to just put a notice up in the foodbank to let people know that if they are there they are indeed broke. Do they actually pay people to write this kind of stupid shit? How much? I have lots of dumb ideas that I can turn into cash.
Posted by: Kate | Aug 4, 2021 12:45:20 AM
May be the Ottawa MP's show give $75.00 and lunch money ,( which they can off set to their mortgages ). Just think about 360 MPs x $ 75.00 x the 100 days they work. that works out to 2, 700,00 dollars. What is worst social services give clients a list food banks to go to. Shame on them. What people like diabetics, who can't eat the food, they get a tough getting a special diet. The Minister after a 7,200 page report on how more illness should be included into the diet application and space for physicians to make comments, they removed one of the illness. The real problem is that people in top public sector, working are being too much money for the work they do. Landlords are getting greedy and there 500 people at Hydro making over a million dollars a year. Hospital CEO's are being paid up to and over $700,000 a year to hide and go to meeting everyday. some are so bored they sit there and twiddle their thumbs, I have seen it for myself. I hate to say this but nurses are doing less nursing care now and being paid too much for these times.
I can go on and on, but the bottom line is there are too many perks for high priced higher help that really don't produce a tangible result. The system needs to be over hauled !
Posted by: Rob | Aug 4, 2021 8:18:45 AM
What shes trying to get across basically is that if they got rid of all food banks, alot more families and children would be going hungry, hence they'd be going to other family members, doctors, the news, and politicians etc wouldnt be able to hide it and comment on how we should have more of a millitary presence in the world (Like Harper said in Mcleans magazine this year)
Posted by: Canadian Truth | Aug 4, 2021 8:59:18 AM
I think the issue she was tring to bring to the forfront is that the mere existence of food banks gives the gov't AND the public at large the very wrong idea that there is a safety net available for people without food. A food bank very often allows only 1 visit in a 3 month period, doling out very skimpy and nutritionally void foods enough for 3 days. SOME food banks may allow a visit once monthly. Often, single males are turned away when stock is low, and told to find a soup kitchen for a meal. People are not aware of this, because all they see are news segments showing truckloads of food described by the tonnage, and festive footage of christmas hampers chock full of one day a year goodness. The point of the article ( IMO ) is that such misinformation and propoganda serves the gov't and wealthy alike, who think plenty is available to take care of the working poor and those who need assistance.
Posted by: victor tano | Aug 4, 2021 9:18:30 AM
It's time to do away with food banks , they use to be there for the ones in need, But now everyone wants to use food banks , even if they dont need food banks I use to vounteer at a food bank up North and I see way too many people come in to use them that I know they didnt have to use a food bank. if you can afford to have a big boat and fancy cars than dont use up the food bank food. it there for the real poor.
Posted by: agree with Canadian Truth | Aug 4, 2021 9:20:35 AM
I agree with Canadian Truth, almost completely.
There is alot of misinformation in the media. Noone takes them to court because noone can be bothered or they don't have the money for the legal fees. Which is it for you?
If you really want to help those in need, be kind, and if you have an extra 5 bucks for a meal, give it to them, you are doing so much more good then "giving" to any food bank.
(By the way, the gov't and wealthy don't listen to the media either, I don't think. They are busy making money at their careers.)
Posted by: billy | Aug 4, 2021 9:29:14 AM
wow. i'm glad that people like rob and canadian truth actually think about what they hear\read instead of flying off the handle. it's true that the food banks are just a mask covering the truth of our society. the folks that have commented negatively towards the professor's comment represent the point she was making. people blinded by propaganda. try living on the streets for a week, i dare you.
Posted by: mark | Aug 4, 2021 9:31:26 AM
Somebody has been paid off.
Posted by: Sue | Aug 4, 2021 9:38:48 AM
I agree with the post made by (Canadian Truth). People who donate to organizations such as for example Salvation Army should be asking questions, like where does my money go? I know for a fact the propoganda shown on Tv about all the overflowing Xmas hampers is BS. All food and toys are dontated. (where does the actual money go?) They continue to line their own pockets before anything is given back to the community. Infact, many are turned away because they need appointments to receive food, and yes only once per month is food given to individuals. You can only be hungry on Tues and Thurs. Most food is donated and rarely purchased with money given by the community. The same at Xmas some communities have stopped giving hampers and opted for gift certificates - 40.00 for a family of 4 - really what would that buy?? Maybe if they did shut down food banks and stop donating to these organizations then maybe the government would have to step in and really help the folks that need it.
Posted by: Tammy | Aug 4, 2021 9:55:58 AM
I got to tell you I think there are a lot of people abusing the use of the food bank, I'm sure it does help a lot of people but there are a lot of people abusing it. The reason why I'm saying this is that I have seen it first hand. I live in Toronto Community Housing I work and have been very lucky and have not had to use the Food Banks, I'm not rich but I manager to feed myself and my son even taking on a 2nd job to help pay the bills. But I have seen first hand abuse of the Food Banks, 1 example there have been over the years I have lived here two different woman that lived next to me who worked for places that had food banks they had food donated by company such as Kraft these ladies would bring boxes of food home for themselves, they had a two family income, brand new cars and were very could buy food but they took food from the food bank that could be used for others, I'm told this is common practice. 2nd example is my Aunt who is a single person and who is on Welfare, her rent and hydro are paid for her all she gets is a small cheque for food at the end of the month but my other aunt who works very hard takes her shopping and buys her food for her, right after she comes back with a enough food to feed a family of 4 she will asked her sister to bring her to the food bank so she can get more food. Now why would she need food from the food bank when she already has some. All 3 of these people are greedy and to me the reason why there is no food in the food banks so I have stopped altogether donating to them. It needs to be fixed and the staff should at no time be allowed to take any food home for themselves.
Posted by: Tracy | Aug 4, 2021 10:04:06 AM
I think food stamps or gift cards for supermarkets might be an option are social service system has stepped up and are now paying the rent/hydro directly which is great since a lot of people don't pay their rent and move often. We need to make a lot more improvements like make people accountable for their actions make them go to school, volunteer or do something for their money maybe make them take a money management course on how to manager their money. Yes I know some people will sell the food stamps but than they don't eat its time we stop giving, giving to people we need to teach people how to manager their money.
I am coming from a place where I have been on welfare and had to live on very little money, I know work and make a good wage however I always manage my money well and always had food in my house. I clip coupons, buy on sale and don't buy what I can't afford to until it is on sale.
You got someone driving up in a brand new car going to the food banks asking for food they leave with bags of food and drive away...if you having a hard time eating use public transit and save on insurance and buy food with the money.
Posted by: John | Aug 4, 2021 10:21:23 AM
While not eliminate food banks altogether, recipients should means test . I would ask for income tax papers and/or a list of monthly income and detailed disbursements. I would allow no pop,pizza,tobacco,fast food,alcohol,etc. Eliminate all unecessary luxuries. This might seen harsh to some but I live a healthy lifestyle and I don't need those luxuries.and I'm not lined up at a food bank
Posted by: Daff0dyl | Aug 4, 2021 10:23:00 AM
Personally I think the government should look into giving food stamps. They do that in some states and it works. The amount of food stamps you receive could depend on your income.
The food stamps CANNOT be used for tobacco products, alcohol AND you cannot receive cash change for them in order to prevent you from wasting what would be given.
I also strongly believe that food bank users should have some sort of an ID card. That would help keep a better control of who uses this service. The cards could be given on a 'need' basis, with expiry dates so they your situation could be reviewed. That way, only people who really need the food banks would be able to use them. And don't give me any crap about 'oh that's unfair, you're segregating them, it would be demoralizing blah blah blah. We all need I.D. for everything in life now. We have to be accountable for everything we do. It should be the same for people who use the food banks.
The cards could even be different according to the situation. I.E. mentally hill patients who we think might always require the services could have a special code on their card, or a different coloured one.
There are ways to make the system work BUT nobody wants to put the effort into it.
I knew someone who used to say "it's just like feeding a stray cat; once you feed it it will keep coming back for more and never learn to fend for itself". I think that statement could be applied to a lot of people using the food bank.
Posted by: Reality | Aug 4, 2021 1:19:28 PM
I agree with Canadian Truth, John Aug 4 10:21:23 AM, Daffodyl
Many people in different industries, including my son in IT, that have their CONTRACT expired many months ago are unemployed and not eligible for any food bank hampers at all, rent relief and other assistance.
They paid their taxes! They wanted to work and they worked and contributed to the society and now they still have their families and responsibilities.
The Food Stamps may be a better way but please check the situation with Food Stamps south of the border. Some economists quote there are 30-40 million recipients there. Is it a solution when an economy is bumpy and a country/government is in an spending cuts' mode?
There really is a need for some overhaul of the food bank and other relief systems to bring them in line with current realities that the whole world lives in.
Posted by: Janet Diana Mathes | Aug 4, 2021 2:49:57 PM
Canada land of the free ( bull ) Dictatership,greed in the government,Do this Don't do that,seriously talk about taking the food bank away just about every item we purchase is not less than $ 5:00. Canadians are so nice we put up with all the shit. $ 11:00 dollars for toliet paper,$10:00 for laundry soap just a few items that you can't eat go figure $21:00 to make sure my bum is cleam and I have clean clothes that smell pretty.But I have no milk or bread in the middle of the month.It's time to stop talking,take back our freedom.Strike shut down all the grocery stores gas stations,short haul long haul truckers,transit etc ect.Lets feed and take responsiblality for our own Canadians before sending money over seas for hungry children which probably never gets there.I really love my country but every day freedoms are taken,and communist country is just around the corner.
Posted by: Route66 | Aug 4, 2021 11:16:38 PM
I disagree totally with comments about the Salvation Army. I have seen the difference that they make in a childs life. I have seen first hand a little girl of 9 showing me a vougher for Wal-Mart for $150.00 for inprovement in her school grades. They don't piss away money on fancy salaries. In fact, I wouldn't work for the pittance they pay thier officers. That's why you usually see a husband and wife team operating as officers. They need both salaries just to survive. I have seen kids that can't afford to go to summer camp, going anyway and the parents told that "they didn't have time to collect the camp fees." "we'll have to catch up with you another time." I have never seen a charity as committed to the community as the Salvation Army. God bless them. They do an awesome job. People who don't believe that, have no concept of reality whatsoever and shouldn't be posting at all.