EDITORIAL: Food bank usage a national and local shame

Time was when food banks were set up as temporary solutions to help some unfortunate residents subsist through a rough patch.

The Surrey Food Bank opened in evergreen Mall in Fleetwood on March 3, 1983.

Today, record numbers of Canadians are relying on food banks, according to Food Bank Canada’s latest report.

Food Bank Canada represents food banks across the nation and was originally formed in 1989 as the Canadian Association of Food Banks, back when it was believed food banks were needed only to cover short-term demand.

Local New Democrat MP Jinny Sims, as can be expected, is blaming this situation on her Conservative government rivals, charging them with failing to create good jobs and invest in affordable housing. The cost of living, she notes, has become too high, particularly in the areas of childcare and affordable housing.

"Canadians are being squeezed from all sides, and this is the result," she noted.

Wherever the blame should lie, the report’s figures reveal that in March this year 850,000 Canadians have used a food bank and this is a 25 per cent increase from 2008. According to Food Bank Canada, 170,000 more people each month are turning to food banks for help.

Of the food bank users, 37 per cent are children. Sims notes, sadly, that more than 40 per cent of Surrey Food Bank’s clientele are children – a rate higher than that of the national average.

This state of affairs is, of course, unconscionable in a wealthy nation like Canada and is nothing less than a national shame.

It is also Surrey’s shame. As we approach voting day in this civic election contest, voters should be wholly concerned with what realistic plans council and mayoral candidates have to put a dent in this growing social problem before it grows even more out of control than it already is.

Surrey’s slogan is "The Future Lives Here." Let’s make sure it could not feasibly be changed to, "The Future depends on the Surrey Food Bank."

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