Number of Winnipeg Food Bank Users on the Rise
When you hear the words “World Food Day,” what comes to mind? Do you start daydreaming of the “Charlie” donut from Bronuts or the “Farmer Jon” burger from Brazen Hall Kitchen & Brewery? World Food Day, which commemorates the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization, is a day to raise awareness about food insecurity and the fact that many people around the world – and in our city – are unable to enjoy such treats because they don’t even know how they are going to buy their next meal. The theme for World Food Day this year focuses on migration and sustainable living.
This theme intertwines with food security: As Winnipeg’s population grows, the growth of resources must follow if we want to ensure that the right to food is met. Winnipeg’s food bank usage has risen by more than half since 2008 – this is a big number that should not be rising. In 2016, the usage lowered by 2.9%, however, this year the use of food banks arose again by almost the same amount.
Earlier this year, the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg stated that poverty is a major problem and that there needs to be an anti-poverty plan working to ensure that poverty is considered when new policies arise. In the City Hall proceeding, Josh Brandon said, “It’s too often the lowest income Winnipeggers are left behind and excluded by city policies.” ( Stephanie Taylor). There are initiatives that offer support, such as affordable housing and providing jobs to people experiencing homelessness or poverty-stricken families. These support systems make a difference, but there is still a lot to do. There has been a lot of talk about these issues, so why hasn’t more change occurred?
Winnipeg Food Banks
Food bank volunteers have been working hard and shelters are expanding their areas. Siloam Mission recently opened the doors of its new kitchen and dining area just in time for Thanksgiving, expecting to serve more than 800 meals this year. In 2013, Siloam Mission set its record of serving 1,125 meals in just 2 hours. Siloam Mission keeps growing! They recently started Phase 1 of their new Make Room Campaign, a $17 million dollar initiative that will create extra shelter, allow them to purchase emergency equipment, and create a women’s shelter, helping them reach more people.
Winnipeg Harvest has monitored the issue of food insecurity in Winnipeg, providing statistics and reports on food usage, while also helping Winnipeg’s food banks and serving over 64,000 people each month – the equivalent of 8.5 Shaw Park stadiums. One recent event Winnipeg Harvest hosted was “Soup-er week” (from Oct. 10th-16th), where participating restaurants donated proceeds from their signature soup, Winnipeggers could vote for their favorite soup on the @souperweek Facebook page, and of course, the 8th Annual Empty Bowls Soup-er Lunch at Bell MTS Place.
There are many events where you can help out local food banks – you can also plan your own event! If you check out Winnipeg Harvest, Siloam Mission, or the websites of other food bank/shelters, you can learn additional information on how they help others and how you can help.
Every day, month and season, many people are going hungry. So many people have to worry about how or even if they are going to get their next meal, and this is not okay. Everyone has the right and necessity to food.