A non-profit in Newfoundland and Labrador claims that declining funds and high demand are forcing the closure of its food helpline, but it is not seeking additional cash to keep it operating.
Instead, Josh Smee, the CEO of Food First N.L., has joined a rising chorus of Canadian food charities who argue that policies that guarantee people have the money they need to acquire food are the best way to address the nation's escalating hunger crisis.
In a recent interview, Smee noted that the demand for many food charities is "unsustainable" due to the rising cost of living and that more individuals are seeking assistance now than at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is currently a "wider recognition" that this is not a problem that can be resolved by philanthropy, he added. We've created a business that does rely on philanthropy, and I believe that is one of the difficulties.
The community food helpline run by Food First N.L. was one of several initiatives set up to aid people throughout the pandemic. According to a survey released last week by Second Harvest, a national nonprofit dedicated to reducing food waste, more food programs were operating in the nation in December than there were in the months before the pandemic.
About 1,300 food agencies across Canada that claimed to feed more than 5.1 million Canadians per month were polled by Second Harvest in December 2022.
According to the paper, they anticipate that figure to increase to over 8.2 million per month in 2023.
The decision to discontinue the Food First community helpline's distribution of grocery store gift cards in March was "visceral, personal, and emotional," according to Smee. The helpline has served more than 11,000 people in 80 different towns around the province during the last three years.
Smee added that individuals were waiting weeks for assistance as the backlog of callers expanded. "At the same time, I think all of us who were part of this work can see that the size of the problem has outstripped what we can do here," he said.
Food First is not the only organization, according to Nick Saul, chief executive officer of Community Food Centres Canada in Toronto. As more people struggle to buy food, Community Food Centres collaborate with 400 organizations, many of whom are "totally flooded," according to Saul.
He stated in an interview that "the problem is very, very real." He called it an "inflection point," noting that low-income individuals have long lacked proper earnings, employment quality, and social services.
"We should all try to help others as much as we can. However, he added, "Unfortunately, it's a very little portion of the greater task we need to do, which involves enhancing income policy and social assistance systems.
According to Toronto-based anti-poverty think tank Maytree, yearly assistance rates for a single person deemed employable in each province in 2021 varied from $7,499 in New Brunswick to $13,838 in Prince Edward Island, including tax benefits. They must greatly increase, according to Saul.
He added that Community Food Centres Canada is supporting a tax credit directed at working-age single childless persons who experience the highest and most severe levels of poverty in the nation.
John Abbott, the minister of youth, elders, and social development in Newfoundland and Labrador, stated that his office is collaborating with Food First to ensure that those who utilize the community food line would be taken care of once it closes.
In an interview, Abbott stated, "I concur that we need to make sure that individuals have more income and greater access to food and housing." "That's something I'm concentrating on."
He cited several measures, such as the all-party basic income committee he established in November and the 5% rise in income assistance rates that was also announced in that month.
Smee underlined his belief in the eventuality of systemic change and added that decision-makers must consider how to assist citizens in the interim.
Households with greater access to decision-makers are suddenly developing food insecurity, according to him. So that's rerouting the conversation, I suppose.
The above article is selected by CoolDeeds.org. The information and the assets belong to their respective owners (original link).
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