Guest Post: Susan Kim supports the Modo Holiday Food Drive
Modo Ambassador Susan Kim, Co-Lead on Food Sovereignty at Meal Exchange, shares why she supports the Modo Holiday Food Drive. Meal Exchange is a national charity whose projects and campaigns pursue increasing food security and access to healthy, sustainable food.
How to support food banks in BC
British Columbia has experienced an increase in food bank use, an increase that is higher than the national average. In other words, while Canada has experienced a 1.3% increase in food bank use since 2015, and 27.8% since 2008, BC has experienced a 3.4% increase since 2015, and 32.5% since 2008. Of the 103,464 people assisted in BC this past year, 32.2% of them are children. Moreover, we can’t neglect that there is a stigma that surrounds food bank use—a stigma that hides the real people and stories that make up that statistic. Those who access food banks are likely to be closer than we imagine.
Vancouver and Victoria are particularly troubling cities in which to be poor and hungry, both things that tend to go hand in hand. For one, Vancouver and Victoria have the first and third highest respective rental costs in Canada. And then there’s the matter of income in British Columbia. BC is home to the fifth lowest minimum wage in the country, with the lowest being a meagre 35 cents lower than our own.
- A disproportionate number of food bank users are in financially precarious states receiving pension, social assistance, or disability-related income supports. (Source: Food Banks Canada)
- Accessing food is much more prohibitive for “low-income families [who] spend a larger amount of their paycheque on basic necessities—rent, bills, transportation—and have little left over to pay for a sudden increase in food.” (Source: Global News)
- BC and Ontario are the only provinces in which food prices are projected to increase over 2-4% in the next year. Situate that fact against BC’s low minimum wage, which won’t even be increasing until September of next year, and will not be proportionate to rates of inflation. (Source: Global News)
So, what can we do?
Well, as Modo members, we can start by participating in the Modo Holiday Food Drive. Until December 27th, you can drop off your non-perishable food donations in the boxes left in specific vehicles around Vancouver and Victoria (see the list of cars here), or swing by the Modo offices themselves! Donations will go towards the Greater Vancouver Food Bank in Vancouver and the Mustard Seed Food Bank in Victoria.
What if you can’t make it to any of these locations before the 27th?
What can we do as individuals who care enough about democratic structures enough to be members of a car co-operative? I encourage you to donate funds directly to the food banks, or other smaller food banks in your community. Over the years, food banks have grown to offer more than temporary fixes to hunger, offering services like spiritual and emotional support, employment workshops, community garden space, and food literacy workshops. Supporting these organizations directly helps to ensure that they can afford to maintain these added services.
Consider going beyond the holiday season: There is the option of donating food or funds throughout the year, or offering your time as a volunteer at your local food bank or other similarly-minded organization. Finally, take the time to speak to your city Victoria or Vancouver Councillor, provincial MLA, and federal MP on issues such as liveable wages, spaces for land and gardens, and poverty reduction.
As both Modo members, and fortunate Victorians and Vancouverites, we can embody a generosity of spirit that extends past the holidays and throughout the new year. That said, I still can’t wait to see the results of this food drive, and how we will have pulled together to wrap up 2016!