Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Victoria Suggests Ending Foodbanks

The Times Colonist is reporting that Victoria City Council has passed a motion to try and make foodbanks in BC a provincial election issue. Which makes sense, because foodbanks are the result of political decisions made in the early 80s under the Conservative Mulroney government.
From the article:
Councillors last week unanimously endorsed a resolution put forward by Coun. Lisa Helps pledging to encourage the provincial and federal governments to eliminate the need for food banks by 2018.
The resolution also calls on the city to help support community and government agencies and the private sector to establish programs that build knowledge and skills “to help people move towards healthier and more secure and dignified access to nutritious food.”
The resolution came from Faith in Action, a multi-faith initiative in support of the poor, which is hoping similar resolutions will be passed by municipalities across the province in an effort to make access to food a provincial election issue, Helps said.
“In some ways, it’s a motherhood resolution, but if every municipality in the province says food’s important, then maybe the province will see it that way, too,” Helps said.
The resolution is more than a declaration that people shouldn’t go hungry, Helps said.
“It’s also that every level of government has some responsibility in that regard.”
In many respects, food banks give governments and residents an easy way out, Helps said.
“If you take your requisite goods to the food bank once a year then you can feel like you’ve done something good. And you have. I’m not saying that you haven’t but that’s not enough.”
I applaud this resolution--it is, after all,  a problem that is supposed to be addressed by our governments. Governments, I'm afraid, that have become more about corporations and less about citizens over the last thirty years.
Victoria, the article notes:
[...] department of sustainability [...] is active in a number of food-related initiatives, including allowing backyard chickens, edible community gardens in parks and Centennial Square, and a certified commercial kitchen facility available for rent by small-scale food processors, food businesses, organizations and individuals through Fairfield-Gonzalez Community Place.

,  who wrote Diet For A Small Planet among other things, suggests that hunger is a product of a deficit of democracy. She writes the story of a Brazilian city that ended hunger in Yes Mag online. Amartya Sen writes in Poverty and famines : an essay on entitlement and deprivation about how there's usually plenty of food around during famines, it's just that the poor cannot access it because of , you know, being poor. This was true also during the Great Potato Famine in Ireland in the mid-1800s. Famines are made more from pverty than from actual lack of food.

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