Are people using food banks suffering from nutritional
deficiencies? In some cases, yes, largely because they do not
receive sufficient income to afford a healthy diet, and are
forced to supplement their diet with food from food banks.
A single person on social assistance receives $520 per
month, and a single parent receives $950, and this is barely
enough to provide for basic needs.
How can people be expected to pull themselves out of this rut without the ability to even save up for job training or new clothes to go on job interviews? Diet-related diseases are on the increase, including obesity, diabetes and heart disease, and that is costing our health-care system dearly.
Recently the provincial government slashed the special dietary supplement amount allocated to many on social assistance. We have to ask ourselves if this is a smart move. Health is our greatest asset and we must cherish it dearly.
According to the Canadian Association of Food Banks
executive director Charles Seiden in a May 4 press release,
there has been an annual increase in food bank use in Canada of
25 percent since 1997. In Sudbury the rate has also increase
substantially in the last few years.
Accessing emergency food banks cannot be confused with the
nutritionally managed programs such as Meals on Wheels, the
Human League Breakfast program and others. Emergency food
services were first designed to get people through tough times,
but this has slowly progressed toward making up the shortfall
because of poverty-level social assistance rates, low incomes
and the high cost of living.
The Sudbury Food Bank has instituted a milk program, thanks
to the support from milk producers. This is a step in the right
direction. As fuel and energy costs rise, so will the price of
a healthy diet.
Can we be more food self-reliant by supporting local
agriculture more directly? This is a good move that also
supports farmers, economic development and jobs.  We have
to ask ourselves if we have lost touch with the importance of
food in our lives and how we can make healthy food a priority
for all.  Developing a food secure community. If you are
interested in becoming more involved, join the
Sudbury-Manitoulin Food Security Network at 523-2567.
Doreen Ojala , Greater Sudbury