Feeding the hungry in Tumbler Ridge

Trent Ernst, Editor
 
On October 16, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations celebrated World Food Day. 
 
The day was set aside to draw attention to food related issues around the globe, the most obvious of which is hunger, malnutrition and poverty. 
 
According to Canadian Feed The Children, 925 million around the world are undernourished, and hunger kills more people than AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria combined. 
 
While the focus is on hunger in third world countries, World Food Day also provided Canadians with a chance to reflect on issues within our own country. 
 
According to Food Banks Canada, a national organization representing food banks across Canada, hunger is largely a hidden problem. While there are occasionally visibly poor people begging on the street, more often than not, people in Canada hide their hunger. 
 
However, each month, nearly 800,000 Canadians receive assistance from a food bank. In 2009, nearly 10 million tonnes of food were distributed to people in need. 
 
Who are these people? They could be anyone, really. It’s said that most people live their lives one paycheque away from poverty. While there are systems in place on a national level to help people (namely Unemployment Insurance and Welfare), there are certain groups more at risk. 
 
Here in Tumbler Ridge, we might look at poverty and hunger and feel smug, as those sorts of things are urban problems. Not true. Nearly half the people who received food bank assistance across Canada came from towns with populations of less than 10,000.  And Tumbler Ridge does have a family assistance program, which provided food and other assistance to about 28 families last year. 
 
This seems like a small number, but  only about 800 families live in Tumbler Ridge.
 
“It is unacceptable in a country as wealthy as Canada that anyone should go without food,” says Katharine Schmidt, Executive Director of Food Banks Canada. “We know that hunger is a global challenge. Food is not something we typically think of as being scarce in this country, but close to 2 million Canadians worry about how they will get their next meal.” 
 
What can we do about it? With Christmas coming upon us faster than we think, the next couple of months will feature a number of Fundraisers for the food bank. 
 
The first event will be the Zombie Walk on October 24. The walk will be for fun and terror, but participants are asked to bring a non-perishable donation for the food bank.
 
That’s not an official food bank event, but donations are going to the food bank. The official food bank events include the angel tree, the Fotos for Foodbank fundraiser and the District of Tumbler Ridge Food Drive (formerly the Mayor’s Food Drive).