Beyond Food

Edmonton was the first city in Canada to establish a food bank thirty four years ago. Originally intended as a temporary measure, the need for food banks in Canada has only grown since its inception. It would be challenging for most to imagine a city without a food bank since there over 800 food banks and 3,000 food programs in Canada. 

Just last week, the Edmonton Food Bank just released their 2015 Client Survey. Within the report we find that demand is at an all-time high. Over 15,580 individuals access the food bank each month, that is up 13.8% from only 18 months prior.

Additional findings from the report

  • 42% of food bank clients surveyed have attended University, College or Trades school.
  • More than half (58%) indicate that food is the first thing they give up after paying rent.
  • Over half of clients spend more than half of their income on housing.
  • Single parents account for 35% of individuals served.
  • 70% of individuals reported that they had no funds at all by the third week of the month.
  • 43% of people noted that they would not need to use the food bank if they had an additional $500 per month.
  • 70% of clients are unconnected to other support services in the community.

These statistics should challenge our own misconceptions about those who live in poverty and those who are forced to visit a food bank for life’s most basic necessity. One of the Food Bank’s strategic objectives is to reduce the dependence on food hampers and to increase food security of Edmontonians. Unfortunately we have become accustomed to the idea that food banks are part of the poverty landscape. It will take all of us to change this reality!

Within the EndPovertyEdmonton Strategy there are two specific priorities that speak to these issues addressed here.

#18. Help people navigate systems in order to access resources and opportunities

#21. Invest in food security-oriented enterprises aimed at increasing food access and gainful employment.

It is imperative that we envision a new society for us all, one in which people don’t skip meals in order to provide food to their children. Now is the time to change the conversation. Now is the time to act Edmonton.

For an additional read on this topic, check out David Berger’s opinion piece in the Edmonton Journal.