Are food banks a Band-Aid approach?
An Ontario professor’s call to close all food banks because they do nothing to help solve hunger has raised plenty of attention across the country.
But, for the head of the Kamloops Food Bank, a negative reaction to the organization’s work is nothing new.
Executive director Bernadette Siracky said some people don’t understand the reasons people use food banks and argued if people educated themselves, they might have a different reaction.
Siracky said there is a story in every person who comes through the organization’s North Shore doors, noting anyone can find themselves in a food-bank lineup at some point in their life.
She noted a growing number of working people and students are using the service.
“I wish we weren’t here, too,” Siracky said.
“That would be my wish, that a food bank in Kamloops was not required by so many people, because it really is [needed].”
Elaine Power, an associate professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., told CTV food banks do nothing to alleviate poverty, calling them a Band-Aid solution.
She said food banks have left the government off the hook in dealing with the problem.
Power’s comments have sparked a debate on the issue across Canada.
It’s a conversation Siracky welcomes.
She said the country needs to look at long-term solutions to hunger problems and the professor’s comments are bringing national attention to the issue.
“We are not a long-term solution. We can’t be,” Siracky said of food banks.
“Yet, we’re here long term.”
Until hunger problems are solved, she said, the food bank is a needed resource.
“We have these people who are hungry without asking why they’re here,” Siracky said, adding the bank really provides only minimal support.
More than 900,000 Canadians use a food bank each month.
Last year in Kamloops, the local food bank served 6,931 individuals, with another 4,300 visits to its site every month.
More than 2,000 clients were under the age of 18.
However, there may be some good news in the fight against hunger.
The Kamloops Food Bank had been seeing a steady increase in users between 2007 and 2009 but, in the last two years, the organization noted the numbers have levelled off.