Look around next time you walk past a few people in your neighbourhood. Studies show that even in Canada, more than one quarter – specifically 28 out of 100 people – are worried about 'how they can afford to buy food' for themselves and/or their families. A nationwide Angus Reid poll also shows that 40 per cent of Canadians 'know someone who has used a food bank'.
If you find that startling, there's more: one in five Canadians say they have skipped a meal at least once in the past year because they didn't have enough food, or money. Parents are quietly but constantly making sacrifices as well. As many as 20 percent of parents say they skip meals so there is enough food for their children to eat. Of those, 50 per cent skip meals several times a month, and nearly 25 percent skip a meal once per week.
These are surprising statistics in a country as affluent as Canada.
“Jolting is more the word,” says Katharine Schmidt, the executive director at Food Banks Canada. “The survey results truly saddened us to learn how so many Canadians are struggling without food in so many different ways.”
There isn't one typical profile to describe those who are turning to the food banks for help, Schmidt points out. “In fact, our countrywide network helps a variety of individuals including families with children, employed people struggling to buy the basic essentials, and individuals on social assistance or fixed incomes, including seniors and those with disabilities.
“Through our research we've learned that families are typically dealing with the shortage by buying less expensive food, cutting other expenses, or just eating less. Day after day, they say they have no choice.”
And yet, as serious as this is, something can be done to actually eliminate hunger in Canada, Schmidt emphasized. “For example, to solve this problem in the long-term, the focus has shifted to pinpointing the root causes. Food banks across the country are not only working to address the immediate need for food, but they are also working with government and other partners to significantly reduce the number of food banks in the future.
With raised awareness across the entire country, everyone can become part of a real solution. More information is available online at HungerAwarenessWeek.ca.
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