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Food Banks in Canada to Solve Food Supply

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Currently, millions of Canadians worry about having sufficient amount of food, suitable selection of food and quality of food. The outlined groups of individuals are characterized as living in households that are food insecure. Compared to individuals found in homes that are food secure, food insecurity is associated with a growth in anxiety. For instance, physically, food security is related to poor overall health, obesity, depression, chronic illness and anemia (Tarasuk et al., 2011).

Due to increasing food insecurity, food banks that were initially meant to provide seldom assistance to individuals in need have emerged to be a fixture in a lot of Canadian’s lives. Funded majorly by corporate and individual donations, food banks are currently a part of the Canadian social fabric as well as the primary hunger response. To a large number of Canadians, the food that is offered in food banks has become a key component of their monthly nutritional intake. From outside food banks appears to be doing a good job and it appears as if the issue of hunger has been addressed. Even elected officials do not feel under pressure to address the issue of food since feeding the hungry has been addressed by food banks anemia (Tarasuk et al., 2014).

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However, despite the proliferation of food banks, there has been an increase in hunger with over 94% of those using food banks exposed to food insecurity. The same is because the majority of those who use food banks regularly go hungry thereby. Subject to the unpredictability of food donated through and to food banks, they find it hard to meet the nutritional needs of its recipients (Bazerghi et al., 2016). Aside from quantity, the quality of food given to users of food banks is also questionable. Some of the food is either past due date or damaged making them not suitable for consumption and limiting the amount of food available for distribution. That said this paper seeks to prove that food banks in Canada have not addressed the problem of food security but have instead made it worse. Literature reviewThe impact of food bank on food security is discussed in four ways in the literature. First, food banks have undermined food security in Canada.

According to Riches (2002), food banks rise in Canada is sufficient evidence of social assistance commodification and social safety net breakdown. Riches (2002) opine that food banks undermine the obligation of the state to fulfill, protect and respect the rights of humans to food. The authors argue that food banks allow governments to neglect well-being, nutritional health, and poverty by looking the other way. Therefore instead of meeting their objective of advocacy and educating the public as well as curbing hunger, Riches (2002) asserts that food banks have propagated hunger by diverting the attention of the government from food security. Second debate builds on the first debate by explaining the relationship between food banks and food security from a different perspective. While the initial debate asserts that food stamps are undermining food safety by making the government look the other way, Tarasuk & Eakin (2003) argue differently.

In their view, food received by food banks isn’t enough to meet the needs of the individuals seeking assistance, and as such it propagates food insecurity. Tarasuk & Eakin (2003) propounds that, subject to a limit in supply, workers put a limit on the frequency that every client get assistance. Also, workers restrict the selection of an amount of food that individual clients get on any single occasion. In essence, Tarasuk & Eakin (2003) argues that food banks do not reduce food security since it can't meet the food needs of individuals seeking assistance. Rather, Tarasuk & Eakin (2003) argues that the inconspicuousness of the unmet needs in the food banks provides minimum motivation for the government or community group to look for solutions to the problem. Third debate expound on the assertions of the second argument by highlighting that food provided at the food banks are not nutritious. Irwin et al. (2007) assert that hampers of food banks do not have sufficient nutritional contents.

The authors established that the food hampers lacked in Vitamin D, A and calcium. Irwin et al. (2007) outline that the nutritional contents are limited since food banks rarely issue fresh food like vegetables, fresh fruits, meat, dairy products and bread that contains the above nutrients. In other words, Irwin et al. (2007) argue that food banks do not support food security since their food contents are not sufficiently nutritious. The fourth debate built on the outlined assertions by highlighting a new class of food bank users. While the other studies assert that food bank users are low income individuals, McIntyre et al. (2012) state that even households found in the lowest income bracket depend on the food bank for food. McIntyre et al. (2012) show that despite the government attempt to minimize household’s dependence on social assistance through wage subsidies and opportunities for training, food insecurity persists in this group of individuals.

According to McIntyre et al. (2012), a large number of working poor still depend on the food bank for food with food security amongst the poor being more than among those receiving social assistance. The authors highlight that food banks do not address the problem of hunger since even in their existence; people continue to suffer from food insecurity. My argument builds on the first three debates on the relationship between the food bank and food security. The paper will argue that food banks have not addressed the problem of food security but have instead made it worse.

Discussion

The provincial and federal government of Canada depends on food banks to alleviate food insecurity instead of developing public policies to address food insecurity (Loopstra & Tarasuk 2012). However, despite food banks being the dominant response to food security, there are questions regarding its effectiveness. From afar the large number of food banks in Canada and the large volume of food in their coffers may lead someone to believe that they are sufficiently addressing the issue of food insecurity in Canada. However, the truth of the matter is that this is not the case. Even thoughfood banks receive a lot of food in the form of donations, the food they receive is not enough to address the food security in Canada. Therefore even though food banks have been able to provide food for food insecurity households, it has worsened food insecurity.

The same is the case because it has allowed the government to look the other way and dump the responsibility of addressing the food insecurity issue. Instead of the government coming up with proper public security on food security, it is relying on food security that is not effective in addressing the problem. The same is supported by a study carried out by Riches (2002) which showed that food banks have resulted in social assistance commodification social safety net breakdown. Secondly, food banks cannot address the food needs of individuals seeking assistance, and the same is because the food it receives is insufficient to completely address the needs of the individuals seeking assistance. Also, some of the foods that food banks receive are not quality since they are either damaged or past their expiry date.

The shortage of food supply has amounted into workers putting a limit on the frequency with which clients get assistance as well as the volume of food that a person can receive in a single occasion. The outlined initiative by assistance implies that assistance has dissociated from the needs of clients and the needs that are unmet have become invisible. With the unmet needs of people being invisible to food banks, it provides a minimum incentive for the government and the community to find a solution to food security. The same sentiments were echoed by Rarasuk & Eakin (2003) in their analysis of fifteen food banks found in the Toronto region and its nearby communities. The authors highlighted that despite the existence of a food bank, the unmet need is still felt in Canada. Food banks depend on food donations from corporations and individuals. Therefore, they do not get to choose the types of food on their shelves. Majority of the food they receive are processed foods with a limited volume of fresh foods. As such, when individuals in need turn to them for food, they have no choice, but it gives what they have which is more of processed food and less fresh food.

According to FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), food security is considered to exist when people have access to nutritious safe and sufficient food to address their food preference and dietary needs for a healthy and active life (Che & Chen, 2003). The same is not the case in food banks since individuals do not receive the nutrients found in fresh foods which are limited in supply. As such, households that have food insecurity are characterizedwith poor quality diets consumption due to consumption of limited servings of meat, vegetables, fruits, and milk products as well as lower intake of nutrients. The same is due to a compromise in their diets as well as limited supply of nutritious foods in food banks that they depend on for food. The same is underpinned by the study that examined the food security data of households from the Canadian Community Health Survey by Krkpatrick & Tarasuk (2007).

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