Let’s work toward a hunger free Yukon

Pallets of food filled the warehouse of the Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto when I first visited it some 20 years ago.

Pallets of food filled the warehouse of the Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto when I first visited it some 20 years ago.

Volunteers busily unpacked incoming cases of donated canned food while others prepared the outgoing shipments for the network of neighbourhood food banks, soup kitchens and various other hunger-alleviation programs around Toronto.

Gerald Kennedy, a recent Liberal leadership hopeful, but then the general manager of this bustling organization, guided me around on my initial visit.

I remember how impressed I was with the fact that they managed to get more than two million kilos of donated food processed in and then out to people in need every year.

I was more impressed, though, with the spirit of the organization.

Daily Bread relied then and still does on a large community of volunteers.

Many of them came motivated by a faith perspective, others by social justice and some just out of a basic spirit of fairness — but all believing that no one should go hungry in a wealthy country like ours.

This common belief inspired them to undertake education, action and advocacy projects in addition to food distribution as a core element in their efforts.

Today the Daily Bread Food Bank serves some 83,000 people a month through a network of 160 member agencies and about 190 food relief programs in the Toronto region.

It distributes more than eight million kilograms of food out of its large New Toronto Street warehouse.

As well, it has not lost its larger view of the hunger issue. Recently it restated its vision for “a Canada where hunger does not exist.”

And it has a plan.

In its Blueprint to Fight Hunger it states, “We can win the fight against hunger by bringing fairness and equity through adequate income to children and people with experiencing disabilities; opportunity for the working poor and immigrants and affordable housing to strengthen the fabric of our communities.”

For a more in depth look at its campaign go to www.dailybread.ca.

The folk at the Daily Bread Food Bank realize that the problem of hunger is a multifaceted one.

Housing, a living wage, adequate support programs for children and the disadvantaged must be among the elements of any successful hunger-elimination strategy.

Its action blueprint appears to mirror key points of the Campaign 2000 call to end child and family poverty in Canada.

Campaign 2000 issued its national 2006 report card on child and family poverty in late November (www.campaign2000.ca) and found the federal government wanting on almost all points.

It added effective child-income benefits, a universally accessible system of early learning and childcare and affordable post secondary training to their anti-poverty strategy.

It reminds us that still one in six children grow up in poverty in Canada. In First Nations communities this harsh reality applies to one in every four children.

The National Council of Welfare critically says, “If there is no long-term vision, no plan, no one identified to lead or carry out the plan, no resources assigned and no accepted measure of results, we will be mired in the consequences of poverty for generations to come.”

The National Council of Welfare also has launched a website (www.ncwcnbes.net) offering steps that we and our politicians should take to address these concerns.

The Yukon Anti Poverty Coalition has long been active in trying to address the needs of the hungry in Whitehorse through efforts it initiated such as the food coupon project, which supports the Maryhouse and Salvation Army food programs.

Remember, they are available at Kutters, Plantation Flowers, the Superstore and Food Fair/Super Valu.

Now the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition is about to launch its own education and action program.

There are strong similarities to the efforts of Campaign 2000 and the Daily Bread Food Bank.

It will call on us to resolve to make Whitehorse a hunger-free city.

Now this is one resolution for the new year that I can certainly support.

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