National Hunger Awareness Day
Today marks the fourth annual National Hunger Awareness Day, recognizing that over 720,000 Canadians are assisted by food banks each month. Those affected by this quiet yet persistent danger are children, handicapped persons, single moms, social welfare recipients and the gainfully employed who still can't afford food. The hunger problem exists in rural, urban and suburban communities.
Locally, over 900,000 people benefit from GTA food banks each year, a third of whom are children. Over a quarter of households using food banks have at least one person working; half of the clients identify as having a disability or serious illness. And after paying rent and utilities, the average household has a mere $6.61 left per day for other expenses.
As oil and food costs rise worldwide, the number of people pushed into hunger will only continue to grow. Fortunately, there are ways to fight this pervasive problem.
Most Canadians feel that the federal government should support hunger relief, and the Canadian Association of Food Banks (CAFB), the sponsor of today's National Hunger Awareness Day, has a petition available which outlines four steps for Ottawa to take to reduce the need for food banks:
1. Develop a National Anti-Poverty Strategy
2. Reform the Employment Insurance system to make it more fair
3. Move forward on a $5,000 Canada Child Tax Benefit
4. Invest in affordable housing and child care
Food banks around the country are creating Walls of Hunger today, representing the number of people assisted with essential food in their community. Those assisted by food banks will be able to add messages to these walls. Volunteers and food donations are always welcome.
I have, fortunately, never had to worry about where or when my next meal will come from. But I know, and know of people who do worry. We all deserve to have food to eat; consider a donation, for yourself or on behalf of others, to places like Toronto's Daily Bread Food Bank.
National statistics from CAFB; local statistics from Daily Bread Food Bank. Photo by blogTO flickr pool'er RaeGA.
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