While the disturbing skyrocketing trends in food bank demand show the need for significant policy intervention at both federal and provincial levels, these changes are often slow and incremental. The urgency of action requires a multipronged approach, one that better meets immediate needs while policy change tends to move at a different pace.
Seeing this level of hunger on a daily basis has pushed many food banks to find new ways to improve both the amount and quality of food they give to their clients, all while managing limitations of costs and infrastructure on the ground.
This presentation will outline the role of food recovery in contributing to the food supply of Canada’s food bank network, the impact on food bank programming, and the main components involved in the food rescue chain. The presentation will also share the outcomes of the “Farm to Food” project, a food rescue initiative that converted surplus produce from farms in Essex County, Ontario into nutritious soups distributed to food banks across Ontario.
Food recovery initiatives are not a long-term solution to hunger in Canada and must not occur at the expense of continued investment in progressive social policy that increases people’s incomes, which ultimately has the biggest impact in reducing food insecurity. However, they can decrease the burden and stress of hunger for people accessing them, while enabling more dignity and choice within this mode of support.
Richard Matern is the Director of Research at Food Banks Canada. His past work includes leading large scale community based research projects which helped to inform the income security review process in Ontario. Richard and his colleagues at Food Banks Canada conduct research that amplifies the driving forces behind food bank use in Canada, and recommend solutions to address them. The research also assists our advocacy efforts to inform the government, policy makers and the general public about what is ultimately needed to achieve our goal of a Canada where no one goes hungry. Richard was also part of the research team that developed the Ontario Deprivation Index, the first poverty measure of its kind in Canada.