Although Canada is one of the richest nations on the planet, there were nearly 900,000 people in 2010 who had to take advantage of their local food bank in order to avoid sending themselves and their families to bed hungry at night.
That’s a stark fact Major Rolf Guenther wants people in Oceanside to think about, particularly in light of the ever-rising demand for the food bank in this area.
“We have now almost 400 people every month, which is an average of about 100 more than at this time last year,” Guenther said. “The good news is that in April we had 22 fewer families than last year, at the same time, although I don’t know if that’s a trend.”
He made the comments in light of Hunger Awareness Day on May 31. On that day, Food Banks Canada, along with other organizations such as the Salvation Army, are encouraging Canadians to make a change — big or small — that will help change the status of hunger in the country.
“We truly believe that every Canadian can have an impact on hunger and want to inspire them to think differently and take action against an issue that affects so many of us,” said Food Banks Canada executive director Katharine Schmidt.
According to statistics provided by Foods Banks Canada, people with jobs — the working poor — constitute the third largest group of food bank clients, at 11.4 per cent. More alarmingly, children were found to represent 37.8 per cent of food bank users.
By far the largest group however were recipients of some form of social assistance, who made up 50.5 per cent of food bank recipients.
The figures, Guenther said, were compiled by Food Banks Canada during what he called a hunger count during the month of March.
“All the food banks and soup kitchens get forms to fill out and we ask people at the soup kitchen and food bank if they live by themselves, rent an apartment or live on the street, as well as whether they are on a pension, social assistance, a disability, are a student or seniors, those kinds of things,” he said.
The harsh reality of the resulting statistics is mirrored in the need locally, Guenther said, noting the food bank is once again asking the community for items such as peanut butter, canned milk, tuna, salmon, herbal tea, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, body soap, laundry soap, feminine hygiene products, Kraft Dinner, small bags of pasta, Hamburger Helper, Tuna Helper, Sidekicks pasta and Sidekicks rise, along with canned tomatoes, pasta sauce and canned fruit.