Grey Bruce Online Food Map is Launched; Targets Hunger and Waste Reduction

The Food Security Action Group (FSAG) has launched a Bruce Grey Food Assets Map. The map will help to connect organizations and businesses looking to build better food security throughout the region.

Currently, the Food Assets Map includes programs and initiatives like community gardens, community meals, food banks, food education, good food boxes, meal delivery services, student nutrition programs, and other support services. Food businesses on the map include farmers’ markets, distributors, grocers, producers, processors, restaurants and cafés. The map also captures food system infrastructure assets such as dry and cold storage, commercial kitchens and transportation opportunities.

Are you part of the food system in Grey Bruce? If so, FSAG wants you on the map. Individuals and groups may submit new assets for the map using a crowd-source form hosted by Grey County.

Over the next few months, FSAG will use mapped resources to engage partners in a Grey Bruce Food Gleaning project. Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover foods that would otherwise go to waste and connecting those foods to people in need. According to a 2014 Value Chain Management Centre report, Canadians waste a staggering $31 billion in food every year. Food gleaning can play a role in reducing food waste and its impacts, producing social, environmental and economic benefits.

The map was developed in partnership with Grey County GIS Mapping Services following a survey and interviews with food security programs and services. The Food Security Action Group is a branch of the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force.

Community members are encouraged to connect with Jaden Calvert of FSAG to help populate the map or to contribute to regional food gleaning projects:  jaden.calvert@gmail.com.

For technical issues with the map, contact Grey County GIS at gisdesk@grey.ca.  Please reference Bruce, Grey, Food Asset Map.

Link to map: http://grey.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=a70b87bc334846638b8d738ab26fced9

Link to map form: http://grey.maps.arcgis.com/apps/GeoForm/index.html?appid=ed0501c109e7401eb1f0f262a51dac17

Hunger Awareness Week: Who Do You Think Uses the Food Bank?

May 5th-9th is Hunger Awareness Week in Canada

The 2008 recession may have hit six years ago, but Ontarians are still dealing with the aftermath. Full time jobs with benefits are merely a dream for thousands of Ontarians who are carrying the burden of a downtrodden economy. While salaries decrease, the cost of housing, hydro bills, childcare, and food are on the rise. The media and our governments may proclaim our economy is on the mend, but the people visiting food banks today paint a much different picture.

Food bank use in Ontario hit an all time high in March 2012, when 412,998 individuals relied on support from their local food bank during that month alone. Numbers have decreased slightly since, but food banks in this province are struggling to keep up with demand. Factory closures, company downsizing, and depletions of personal savings are leading many who once considered themselves middle-class Canadians, to turn to social support services to make ends meet.

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The traditional idea of who uses a food bank is a myth. There are no traditional food bank clients. In fact, the largest group of individuals accessing food banks are children. Close to 40 per cent of food bank clients in this province are boys and girls under the age of 18.

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Would you guess that two of the fastest growing groups of food bank users are senior citizens over the age of 65, and current post-secondary students and recent graduates? Did you know that there is a food bank or emergency food support program on almost every university and college campus in the province?

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Hunger is a symptom of poverty. Food banks in our provincial network understand this, and are working tirelessly every day to alleviate poverty in their communities. By planting and tending to community gardens, lobbying their MPPs for raises to social assistance, hosting a job fair and resume writing session, building a community kitchen, and running after school snack programs, food banks are proving day-in and day-out that they understand what hunger looks like, and why it is happening.

At the provincial level, the Ontario Association of Food Banks strongly believes that the provincial government can and should take a more active role in tackling the root causes of hunger. That is why we are asking Queen’s Park to create a housing benefit for low-income tenants, develop a provincial food policy that ultimately provides access to affordable, nutritious food, and complete a thorough review of Ontario’s social assistance programs, while focusing on an increase in secure, quality employment.

This Hunger Awareness Week, ask yourself: who do you think uses food banks, and more importantly, why? Together, we can take a stand against hunger and poverty.

The hashtag for Hunger Awareness Week is #HungerWeek
For more information, please visit: OntarioHunger.ca or oafb.ca

 Follow Ontario Association of Food Banks on Twitter: www.twitter.com/OAFB

 

Why Food Charity Won’t Solve Canada’s Hunger Problem

Posted: 10/18/2013 12:49 pm

A throne speech may cause great anticipation for some, but unless you are considered “middle class” or a consumer, this speech was not made for you.  Presented in the same week as World Food Day (Oct, 16) and the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (Oct. 17), it was not unreasonable to think that there may have been reference to two of the largest pressing social challenges millions of people in Canada face, but addressing food security and poverty are not key themes in the governments vision for the next few years.

There is no love lost for anti-poverty advocates who didn’t expect any big announcements for poverty in the throne speech considering Canada’s recent rejection of recommendations by the United Nations to develop strategies to combat poverty, homelessness and food security.  In September, the Canadian government formally responded to recommendations made by members of the UN Human Rights Council as part of a review of Canada’s human rights record. A number of countries pointed to national strategies as solutions to poverty and its related challenges, as well as an important step for Canada to fulfill international commitments to economic and social rights such as the right to housing and to food.

What was most difficult to swallow was Canada’s reasoning for denying the most vulnerable in society leadership on these persistent social ills, and that was because they believed that current federal and provincial programs and policies were already in place to adequately address these issues. A pretty unbelievable statement considering what we know:  between 3-4 million people are living in poverty, 200,000 people are visibly homeless, and over a million faced homelessness or were housing insecure (paying more than 30% of their rent on shelter costs) this year. Even worse is the number of people without sufficient access to food – 3.9 million.

Food insecurity is not as simple as being hungry, it encompasses experiencing fear about not having enough food to eat, to skipping food for an entire day.

A portion of these people head to food banks, which have seen overall visits rise in the past few years to the current level of nearly 900,000 visits each month. If the government thinks that food charity constitutes ‘doing something’ about food security, they need to think again.

Individuals have a right to food and struggle to access, produce or acquire adequate meals because of low-income levels, poor wages, high housing and childcare costs, and increasing costs of living in general. Breaking down the recent food banks numbers shows that 52 per cent of people visiting are on social assistance and 12 per cent of families are currently working. People do not have enough money to eat. This is not simply a food problem; this is a poverty problem.

To focus on food charity is to ignore the root of the problem. Yes, people need access to emergency food in tough times – that is why food banks were created – but over 30 years later food banks have boomed and their numbers steadily increased.  Ending hunger is not about charity, it is about justice and respect for human rights.

This year on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty Dignity for All: the campaign for a poverty-free Canada, collaborated with food bank volunteers to say enough is enough. It is time to look beyond food banks and get a national poverty plan in place.  In 12 cities across Canada volunteers took the streets over lunch hour to hand out 10,000 brown bags with food for thought and a postcard they could send the Prime Minister signaling their support for a national poverty action plan.

Groups such as Campaign 2000, Parkdale Food Bank and Freedom 90 – a group of grandmothers who volunteer at food banks and want to see solutions to the root causes of hunger – joined together to send a clear message:

Food charity is not the solution to hunger. A federal poverty plan that considers housing, childcare, food security and incomes is necessary to ensure people have enough to eat and feed their families.

UK – Tripling in foodbank usage

Tripling in foodbank usage

 

Local food bank drive, doesn’t make it.

The Owen Sound Salvation Army’s annual Thanksgiving Food Drive has seen an “unprecedented” drop in the amount of food collected this year.

During the drive, which wrapped up Monday, under 10,000 pounds of food was collected, well below the organization’s goal of 28,000 pounds.

“It is probably an unprecedented drop for us,” Alice Wannan, the Owen Sound Salvation Army’s community and family services co-ordinator, said Tuesday morning. “Our goal was 28,000 and as of this morning we have hit 9,239.”

Wannan said the final numbers from the drive had been tallied up Tuesday morning and there were not yet any plans on how the Salvation Army intends to make up the shortfall.

Update here

As of Tuesday morning, Wannan says the Food Bank tallied only 9239 pounds of food.

The money collected from the kettle drive came in at $6979.13 —  which equates to approximately 2791 pounds of food.