Sorry, No Food

Bonnie Briggs (
Fri, 19 Mar 1999 12:58:43 PST

Hi gang,
  Like the new signature? I had to get a new one because the drums 
moved. Anyway, here's an article I just wrote on food banks. It's 
Canadian-specific, but I think it can apply to all food banks. Enjoy!

                            Sorry, No Food

  "Hey buddy, can you spare a meal?" That could be the cry of the '90's. 
With reduced Welfare rates, funding cutbacks, and more people being made 
homeless, food has to be stretched further. As a result, there is less 
food to go around. The numbers of people using the food bank have risen 
dramatically since Harris was elected; up by 40% over the last three 
years. Here in Toronto, there are 125,000 people using the food bank 
every month, 50,000 of these people are children. There are also 
thousands of families using the food bank. These are mostly people who 
have never used a food bank before. What does this say about our 

  It doesn't say very much about our Society. It is a very sad 
commentary on how we look after our disadvantaged. It used to be that 
everybody looked after each other. Now, it's every man/woman for 
themselves. the poor and homeless are just left on the curbside to fend 
for themselves. We don't care about each other anymore. Gone are the 
days when you could go to your neighbour for food if you ran out. Now, 
the attitude is "you're out of food? Get a job, then you can buy your 
own food. Don't bother me with your problems." Today's Society is very 
much geared to the individual, "me and mine." This is not the way to 
solve the homeless and poverty problem. We need to work together. 

  If you're homeless, you have no way to store, cook, or preserve food. 
Whatever food you can get has to be portable, non-perishable, and 
require no cooking. This pretty well restricts you to junk food like 
chips, chocolate bars, sandwiches, and food that can be eaten from the 
can that you don't have to cook, like pork and beans. You don't have to 
be a doctor to know that kind of diet is not healthy. Homeless people 
live on the edge of malnutrition. Sure, they can get meals occasionally 
at a church, but that's not always available. Sometimes, they're lucky 
enough to find a drop-in who allows them to cook and store food. Some of 
them even have community kitchens, but those kinds of drop-ins are rare. 

  Even if people are fortunate enough to have housing, they're not 
really any healthier. Those people are able to store, cook, and preserve 
food, but many of them are on the edge of malnutrition too. They are 
only able to go to the food bank once a month. Occasionally, they can go 
to an emergency food bank, but it's still not enough. You only get one 
or two bags of food, enough for just a few days. You have no choice 
about what food you're given. Most of what you get is snack-type food, 
so there's no nutrition in it. 

  You don't get anything you can make a meal with, so you end up eating 
only a little bit each day. One thing you do get is Kraft Dinner. Yuck! 
Poor people eat far too much of that stuff. There is no nourishment in 
it, the cheese isn't even real. It's just edible oils. Sure, you could 
add stuff to it, but it's still Kraft Dinner, no matter how you try to 
cover it up. 

  Yeah, ok, you get "fresh" vegetables and fruit. But, some of the 
vegetables I've seen that comes  from the food bank are far from being 
fresh. Some of them are rotting, they've gone soft, and they're way past 
the date when they can be used. How can they expect poor people to eat 
that stuff? Don't they deserve truly fresh vegetables just as much as 
everyone else? By the time these fruits and vegetables get to the poor 
people, any vitamins that were in them have disappeared. A lot of these 
fruits and vegetables end up going in the garbage. That's not doing 
anybody any good. 

  You get a lot of canned food from the food bank; a lot of past-dated 
canned food. If you look at the "best before" dates on the cans you get 
from the food bank, you see that the cans are, for the most part, well 
past these dates. That's not to say that the food is not good to eat, it 
just means that the vitamins are starting to break down; again, no 
nourishment. I think the stores donate these cans to the food bank to 1. 
Get rid of them and 2. To make themselves feel better and toshow Society 
"what good retailers they are by helping the poor people." It's a tax 
write-off for them too. 

  One thing you don't get from the food bank is meat. I know some poor 
people are vegetarians, and I respect that. But, there are people out 
there who are poor and who like meat. Poor people hardly ever get meat, 
unless they go to a church that is serving a meal. Meat is essential for 
iron, protein, vitamins and minerals. We need those things to keep 
ourselves healthy. How are people supposed to stay healthy if they don't 
get those nutrients? They don't have the money to buy meat, it's so 
expensive, yet so necessary. 

  So, how about it? "Can you spare a meal?" There are a lot of poor and 
hungry people out there. They all need to eat. Hunger is no respecter of 
class, age, Societal position, or economic level. We all suffer from it, 
no matter who we are. I have covered many aspects of food banks in this 
article, but there so many that I haven't covered. I didn't even talk 
about kids going to school hungry. It has been scientifically proven 
that if kids don't eat in the morning, they can't learn. Children who 
suffer from malnutrition have learning problems all their lives. Some 
kids are lucky enough to have breakfast programs in their schools, 
provided their families can afford to pay for them. 

  So, that's my article on food banks. I hope you found it informative. 
Next time you see a poor or homeless person who looks hungry, why not 
buy them a meal, or at the very least, give them a coupon for a 
hamburger or bus fare to get to the church so they can get a meal there. 
Let's keep our people fed!

  Well, there you have it. i hope you like it. I have to go, I'm late 
for a meeting and I am starving! Bye!
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