Canadians urged to look at food differently

In a first world nation, it remains a difficult thing to imagine there are people who struggle to provide food for their families. Canadians talk a lot about the food we eat but we don’t talk a lot about hunger.

Organizers are encouraging Canadians to take a break from our food-crazed lives during Hunger Awareness Week which runs through to Sept. 25th.

This year during Hunger Awareness Week, Food Banks Canada will be interrupting our fascination with food to instead bring focus to hunger.

Canadians are obsessed with talking about the food we’re cooking and the meals we’re having. We discuss the restaurants we’re going to or want to visit with wild excitement. We photograph our food and share it on social media channels. Every day, close to 10,000 Canadians use hashtags like #food, #nomnomnom, #yummy and #foodie. By comparison, #endhunger and #hunger are used on average less than 400 times a day. That is a revealing and startling reflection on where we are at these days.

Yet, as the foodie movement continues to gain momentum, so too does hunger in this country. During any given week, more than 200,000 Canadians go hungry, including almost 70,000 children, officials say. Food banks usage has increased by 25% over the last seven years.

Locally, we have continued to see the demand rise and with Alberta’s economy being rather shaky, we except those numbers to at least stay the same, if not continue to increase. Earlier this spring the Red Deer Food Bank handed out 43% more food hampers this past April than in the same month in 2014. In terms of actual numbers, in April 2014, the food bank gave out 338 hampers and this past April saw 592 hampers given out. At that time as well, Executive Director Fred Scaife said the demand had been high.

To help bring attention to this important issue, hunger will have its own voice on Twitter during Hunger Awareness Week. Using the handle @CanadianHunger, the voice of hunger will interact with food-obsessed Canadians in an effort to break through food-related discussions. Follow the conversation at #TweetsOfHunger.

To bring further focus to the hunger issue, Food Banks Canada will also be releasing a sharable 30-second video featuring the everyday challenges of a food insecure family https://youtube/ru3AFJD1LxU.

“Food Banks Canada is taking a new approach to Hunger Awareness Week this year,” says Katharine Schmidt, executive director, Food Banks Canada. “With food-related conversation being abundant on social media channels, we recognized an opportunity to help the voice of hunger be considered in this busy space. We are asking Canadians to stop and take a moment out of their food-crazed lives to consider the other side of things: hunger. Together, Canadians can make an impact on the solvable issue of hunger and find solutions in communities across the country.”

Hunger in Canada exists because deep and persistent poverty continues in the country, officials say. For more than a decade, diverse and inter-related factors have sustained this situation: a labour market that fails to provide enough jobs with stable, livable wages; a rise in precarious and non-standard employment; a fraying income security system that does not provide sufficient financial support for those in need; a lack of affordable, social housing; and accessible and affordable child care. People living in poverty cannot afford sufficient, nutritious food. Many turn to food banks to help them meet this most basic need.

Food banks across the country will be supporting Hunger Awareness Week by inviting community residents and businesses to participate in local events and activities.

Food Banks Canada supports a unique network of over 3,000 food-related organizations in every province and territory that assists close to 850,000 Canadians each month. Together the network shares over 200 million pounds of essential safe quality food annually, provides social programs that help to foster self-sufficiency, and advocates for policy change that will help create a Canada where no one goes hungry.

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