Home Blog July 2015 Food Banks Canada – Working to Fill the Gaps in Social Research and Advocacy

Food Banks Canada – Working to Fill the Gaps in Social Research and Advocacy

Food Banks Canada – Working to Fill the Gaps in Social Research and Advocacy
A sea-change in Canadian advocacy
Starting in the late 1990s, many Canadian organizations that were home to important social policy research faced wide and deep cuts in government funding. While some of these organizations still exist in a reduced capacity, others were forced to close their operations completely – Canadian Policy Research Networks, the National Council of Welfare, the National Aboriginal Health Organization, and the Canadian Literacy and Learning Network are just a few examples.
The closing of these and other non-partisan groups has left a huge gap in research and analysis of the links between poverty, food security, health and well-being. Along with other notable organizations, Food Banks Canada is working to fill that gap by publishing relevant research and actively advocating for policy change with federal and provincial governments.
A focused approach to research and advocacy
As a charity operating under stringent Canada Revenue Agency rules, and with relatively limited resources, Food Banks Canada has a very focused and specific research and advocacy strategy: we focus on the links between poverty, food security and health, and we raise ideas that are not being widely discussed within the political classes.
Food insecurity and low income seniors
For example, in 2010 there was a broad discussion across Canada about whether or not middle income Canadians were saving enough for retirement. A prominent economist made the case that we didn’t need to worry about pensions for low income Canadians, who were accustomed to living on very little. We challenged this view with targeted advocacy around our Fairness for Canadian Seniors paper, which played a major role in the 2011 federal budget’s increase of the Guaranteed Income Supplement for our most vulnerable seniors.
Food insecurity and the high cost of housing
More recently, we have focused our advocacy on the fact that the cost of housing is a key driver of food insecurity and food bank use. Several years of work on this issue led directly to the inclusion of $2 billion for affordable housing in the 2013 federal budget. While there is still work to do on this file, this was an important milestone for Food Banks Canada.
For every success there will be many issues on which we do not prevail. For example, provincial social assistance benefits are shamefully low, and 70% of Canadians on social assistance are food insecure. Years of broad advocacy on this issue have produced very few results. Adult education in Canada is chronically underfunded, though far too many of us are stuck in low-paying, precarious jobs.
In other words – there is still much to do. Food Banks Canada will continue to work to change these problems, so that significantly fewer Canadians will need to make their way to the food bank to ask for help.

Thank you to our corporate partners for the support of this valuable advocacy activity, making a difference for those in need. 

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of food distributed by Canadian food banks is fresh (eg. milk, eggs, fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, bread)