Monday, September 05, 2016
Daily Bread and Food Insecurity
A report released last week offered what is to me a stunning glimpse of the challenges of being healthily fed in one of the most affluent nations on the planet. Read this from the Vancouver Sun:
The bank account is empty. There are two days left until payday. There are hungry children to feed and only crackers, peanut butter and a can of soup in the cupboard. In 2011-12, this was the reality for roughly one in 10 B.C. households, or about half a million people, according to a report from the University of Toronto and B.C.’s Provincial Health Services Authority released Wednesday. Many of those people live in rural regions of the province where there are no food banks. Most have jobs. And because food and housing prices have increased significantly since 2012 while incomes have stayed relatively constant, experts say there’s little reason to believe the situation is any better today.Food insecurity, in its mildest form, means not being able to afford healthy, nutritious food at certain times of the month. At its most severe, it means skipping meals or just going without.
We don't have to travel to British Columbia to witness the realities of food insecurity. Our Bridge St. congregation has three meal ministries to serve in the heart of Belleville, a community with high unemployment and one of the highest rates of child poverty in the province. Inn from the Cold serves hot meals on 42 consecutive days from mid-January to the end of February. Thank God Its Friday hands out frozen meals every Friday afternoon through the year. In 2015 these two ministries distributed more than 8,000 nutritious and gratefully received meals, in total.
An initiative in 2016 is End-of-the-Month Meals, a response to our realization that meal programs in Belleville are mainly in the winter months. Now we are serving hot meals on the last Tuesday and Thursday of the other months when assistance cheques have evaporated. We have been surprised that even through July and August there have been at least 100 guests at each of these meals, and the demand for TGIF is going up, steadily. The EofM meals will likely be 2,000 or more this year, bringing our total over 10,000.
I am so impressed by the commitment of more than 150 volunteers from our congregation and the community at large. We have been the recipients of tremendous generosity, both financially and through food gifts. While we are grateful that we can respond to the need, and the sit-down meals are an important opportunity for community, this is a grim reminder that food insecurity exist for many around us.
No one should be hungry in Canada. No child should fall behind in school because of inadequate nutrition. No person should lose dignity seeking the basics of their daily bread. These are basic human principles, as well as tenets of our Christian faith.