“The opposite of poverty is not wealth but justice,” said Bryan Stevenson, lawyer, professor, and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama. The Local Community Food Centre’s Community Action Coordinator, Elizabeth Anderson, led a discussion at April’s TED Café and this was one of the points that she drove home. “And hunger does not exist in a vacuum,” she added.

Hunger Awareness week is about realizing that many families and individuals do not have enough food to put on the table. We’ve all known this since we were very small children. We’ve grown up participating in food drives at Christmas or bringing a non-perishable food donation to get into an otherwise “free” event. How do people save face when they go to the food bank the following week to pick up the can that they donated?

The load on the food banks is steadily increasing and it’s not just people receiving social assistance who are food insecure. Many working families now struggle to provide adequate food and nutrition for their families. Hunger cannot be solved without looking at the bigger problem of poverty.

There are an incredible number of volunteers who give their time to collecting and distributing food to people who would otherwise be hungry. Those living on a low-income need the food banks to be able to eat. But, the food bank is a response to hunger, not a solution, and we need to start exploring ways to challenge conditions where the need for emergency food assistance is a permanent fact of life.

In order to truly create change in the community, we need to channel people’s kindness and charity into progressive food projects. We need programs that reduce hunger, improve health, and create pathways out of poverty.

Hunger Awareness week runs from May 5-9th. During this time The Local Community Food Centre will be asking its program participants to write to the federal government to recognize the right to physical and economic access to adequate food as a basic and universal human right, to initiate a process to develop a national food policy, to include food security initiatives in the next federal budget, and to uphold their legal obligation to respect the right to good food for all Canadians by taking steps to alleviate differences in healthy food access.

A-Place-At-The-TableThe Local’s social justice club EPIC – Empowering People in Communities – will also be screening the 2012 documentary “A Place at the Table” that defies stereotypes and explores the impact of hunger on American families living in poverty. We will be joined by Dr. Miriam Klassen, the Medical Officer of Health at the Perth District Health Unit and Janice Dunbar, Community Developer at the Huron County Health Unit to lead a discussion about poverty and hunger in our own community. This is a free event that is open to all. Join us at 7pm at the Local Community Food Centre at 612 Erie St.