- by Francesca Dobbyn

Yesterday I attended a fundraising BBQ for the Tobermory Food Bank, in recognition of World Hunger Day. On average about 27 people use the Tobermory Food Bank on a monthly basis.

It is also entirely possible that  in the next few years, the Tobermory Food Bank may not have any clients, and the dedicated volunteers and donors can focus their efforts on gardens, community kitchens, gleaning and other food security activities.

Can you imagine, the end of Food Banks?

Why do I think this?

The Toronto Star reported yesterday that food bank usage in Toronto dropped significantly in the first quarter of this year.

That's amazing and heartening.

From the Star article:

"Food bank use in Toronto dipped by 16,000 visits between January and March this year, the first time in four years there has been a decrease during this time period, according to Toronto's Daily Bread Food Bank.

"The most remarkable aspect of this drop is that the largest decrease is among households that rely on social assistance," said the food bank's research director, Richard Matern.

Daily Bread credits several social policy changes for the drop, including an easing of provincial welfare rules over the past year, indexing of the Canada child benefit last July, and Ontario's minimum wage boost to $14 on January 1."

The article describes the positive impact of other recent poverty reduction strategies.

Canada opened its first foodbank 37 years ago, and now has over 700 foodbanks. Grey and Bruce Counties are home to 21 of those.

The last hunger report written for Bruce Grey is now two years old. I was working on the next report when I took leave to run in the provincial election. I hated leaving it unfinished but only 8 of our 20 Food Banks had completed the survey for the data collection.

It's amazing to think we could be looking at a change of purpose and possible a fading out of the traditional food bank system.

To see the impact of poverty reduction strategies, the potential of a Basic Income, the return of dignity to people's lives, is truly joyful.

The question then remains: do we continue on a path to eliminating the traditional food bank...or do we go back to an era of stigma, shaming and hunger?

The choice is yours.

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