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Food banks not the answer

(Cartoon by Lance Goosen)

It can hardly be a surprise the holiday season is the time of year when food banks see the greatest increase in both support from the community and residents using their services.

But poverty is something experienced by thousands in Durham Region and millions across Canada on a daily basis, not just around Christmas.

Feed The Need in Durham, the region’s food bank distributor, recently launched its annual holiday campaign, seeking $50,000 in cash and 50,000 pounds of food by the end of January.

This is no doubt a worthy cause and everyone who can should be encouraged to provide whatever possible, especially during the season of giving.

But when you get past the warm feelings of the community helping out those in need, there are some not so heartwarming facts.

According to Feed Ontario (formerly The Ontario Association of Food Banks), over the past three years, there’s been a 27 per cent increase in the number of adults with employment income accessing food bank services in the province.

The cost of life in Ontario, especially in the GTA, has become so high even those with full-time jobs are having to look for help just to put food on the table.

And the need isn’t just within adults, as 40 per cent of those Feed The Need In Durham serves on a monthly basis are children.

Minimum wage has increased to $14 almost two years ago, but another increase won’t likely be discussed for a while. But the problem isn’t as black and white as simply saying people aren’t earning enough, as the cost of living, especially rent, is increasing at record-breaking paces.

Most of the time, the only rental development being touted in Durham Region is luxury apartments or condo buildings, while regular citizens are being left out in the cold.

Using food banks to deal with poverty is like treating the symptoms of an illness without knowing the root cause.

If the cycle of poverty is ever going to end or even lessen, the good people behind Feed The Need In Durham aren’t the ones who have to end it, it’s the people elected to office, whether it be municipal, regional, provincial, or federal.