by Cathy Ashby
On Thursday, July 23, local politicians from all branches of government joined Food Banks United members via video-conferencing to discuss local poverty and hunger. The virtual meeting began with a brief summary of Food Banks United’s report, “Voices United 2020: Food Bank Clients Speak Out”. This was followed by a reiteration of the report’s three recommendations: close the gap between current social assistance rates and the actual cost of basic necessities; utilize the current definition of disability under the Ontario Disability Support Program; and all levels of government look at decisions that they are making through a poverty lens.
When making decisions, participating politicians were invited to ask themselves: does our most vulnerable population have access to affordable healthy food, affordable safe housing, affordable local transportation, rural employment opportunities, and to children’s sports and cultural activities?
From across Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry and Leeds and Grenville counties several municipal mayors and counsellors as well as MPP Jim MacDonnell, MPP Steve Clark, and MP Eric Duncan attended the virtual meeting report launch. In response to the report, MPP Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing stated “The data and information that Food Banks United has provided me tonight I think is very helpful. I want to thank you. The information is not going to sit on a shelf. It will be shared widely. Hopefully the engagement will continue.”
Food Banks United is a collaborative comprised of several local food banks. These include: The Agape Centre, Community Food Share, House of Lazarus, Rideau Community Health Services, and South Grenville Food Bank. In Fall 2019, these food banks conducted client surveys covering such topics as employment, transportation, food stability, health, and more.
The survey results, as well as client testimonials, were gathered into the 35-page report with the following goal: “Data obtained from this survey is being shared to invoke discussion of the needs of the most vulnerable in our community and to call to action each community member, community agency and business, as well as each level of government, to make choices that give hope to those living in poverty.”
To obtain a digital copy of the full report, contact House of Lazarus by email to Cathy Ashby at firstname.lastname@example.org, Community Food Share by email to Jane Schoones at email@example.com, or The Agape Centre by email to Lisa Duprau at firstname.lastname@example.org.