The Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) is a network of 120 food banks and over 1,100 hunger relief programs and agencies across the province. Together, we serve 400,000 individuals, including 148,000 children, every month. Since our inception in 1992, we have been committed to reducing hunger in Ontario through sustainable solutions that ensure the long-term health and success of communities across the province. Please visit our website, www.oafb.ca for more information, or follow us on Twitter @OAFB.
With Earth Day just around the corner, it's a great time to talk about how we can increase our efforts to better care for our planet. Climate change is one of the great challenges of our time, and how we deal with this problem will define our future as a species.
Food banks see clients facing these challenges every day, and have responded with innovative programming that not only increases access to healthy food, but turns it into an opportunity to build community. Within the OAFB network, there are food banks in all corners of the province that offer innovative, healthy food options to clients. Here are just a few.
With the new year upon us, everyone is busy making resolutions to change their lives for the better. While committing to exercise more, eat better, and quit smoking are all laudable goals, why not also set a goal to improve the lives of people in your community?
Last week, Finance Minister Bill Morneau warned young Canadians that they should get used to what is known as "job churn" -- short-term employment, with many career changes. Recent reports seem to be supporting his claims.
In 1993, a single person on social assistance would receive $962 in today's dollars. The poverty gap (the difference between total income and the low-income measure) was 20 per cent. Today, that single person on Ontario Works (OW) only receives $681 and experiences a poverty gap of a startling 59 per cent.
Hunger Awareness Week invites us to not only talk about the problem of hunger in Canada, but to think about how we can address it. At the Ontario Association of Food Banks, our long-term vision has always been a hunger-free Ontario. Next summer, this dream may inch a little closer to becoming a reality.
In 2017, the Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) will turn 25 years old. We are deeply proud of the role our network has played over the past quarter century to support communities across Ontario. Food banks have grown from being a resource for emergency food support to multi-service centres that offer innovative programs to help clients move beyond hard times.
Looking at the food system in Canada is a study in contrasts. On one hand, one in eight Canadian families struggle to put food on the table, and over 800,000 people visit a food bank each month. On the other hand, we waste $31 billion in food each year, or a third of what we produce. How can a country with so much abundance also have such great need? As with any problem that is so enormous in scale, the reasons are complex, the impacts are wide-ranging, and the solutions are far from easy.
Summertime exacerbates an issue that is already a big problem for families throughout the rest of the year. Ontario has the most expensive daycare rates in the country, with the average monthly fee for infants in Ontario coming in at $1,152 per month, or $13,824 a year. In Toronto, the annual cost is closer to $20,600.
Next week is Local Food Week in Ontario, a celebration of the rich agricultural bounty we're so lucky to have access to in this province. The local food movement has been all the rage for the past few years, and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. Grocery stores highlight local produce when it's in season, innumerable "farm to table" restaurants have popped up, and farmers markets continue to grow in popularity.
As a society, we established a system of social welfare programs because we wanted to take better care of each other and ensure that everyone had access to basic needs, even during hard times. It was an effort to get a little bit closer to that perfect world. On Monday, a new report was released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives that demonstrates the gap between where we currently are and our vision of where we'd like to be.
The Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) reports that rates of diabetes are disproportionately higher among low-income individuals and First Nations people, two demographics that also face high rates of food insecurity. It's easy to tell someone to "just eat healthier," but it is a lot more difficult to actually put into practice, especially if you can't afford it.
As the job market continues to contort and contract through the shifting of jobs, wages, and stability -- there is a growing voice, a growing question -- how do we make sure people across this province have the means to eat, to live, to thrive? How can we ensure that Ontarians are able to meet their most basic needs?
Getting food into Pikangikum has a sense of urgency, as there is a narrow window of time when the RFDA is able to safely deliver food to the community before the winter freeze sets in. Both the Health Centre and School Meal Program are desperately in need of food, and cannot wait an additional two months until the ice roads fully form.
Small things feel like huge, looming crises because you are so weary emotionally. Every day you are treading water to stay afloat. It's easy to feel hopeless. This is why a partnership with a food bank becomes a lifeline. A beacon of hope in your own personal storm.
Over the past year, the Ontario Association of Food Bank saw a 35 per cent increase in the number of seniors visiting food banks. This growth is particularly concerning when looking at the aging population of Canada, where seniors are predicted to represent 23 per cent of the population by 2030.