Michelle Banks feels no shame in admitting sheusesthe Calgary Food Bank to get through what's been a stressful and worrying couple of years.
Banks and her three young children are considered "food insecure" a growing problem in this city that has yet to show any sign of letting up.
Being food insecure means that you don't have adequate access to food because of financial constraints.
According to the Canadian Community Health Survey, 11.4 per cent of all households in Alberta approximately 169,000 experienced some level of food insecurity in 2014,and that's when Alberta's economy was booming and jobs were plentiful.Since then, the economy has tanked and has posted two straight years of recession.
While non-profit groups, private businesses and volunteers scramble to feed hungry Calgarians, experts warn that food banks and free lunch programs are not the solution.
What's needed, they say, is a basic income guarantee to help eliminate the growing number of people living in poverty.
Children at a Boys and Girls summer camp in southeast Calgary line up to get lunch. (Bryan Labby/CBC)
"It's been tough for us," said the mother of three. "We have been low on food so we've had to use the food bank and stuff like that."
Banks picked up a few bags of food at a Boys and Girls Club of Calgary summer camp that her children are attending in southeast Calgary.
The hampers are being distributed over the summer months.Many of the 30 children who attend the camp are also given sandwiches, snacks and fresh fruit.
Ryan Lumsden, left, and Evan Olsen with Made Foods prepare lunches for a summer program that delivers food to young Calgarians in need. (Bryan Labby/CBC)
It's part of a pilot program to reach hungry kids during the summer when school is out and they don't have access to community lunch programs.
It's called Food Finder YYC, and it's being run by a number of organizations, including Brown Bagging for Calgary's Kids, an organization that provides lunch to 3,200 children every day during the school year.
How Food Finder YYC is helping Calgary kids through the summer0:32
"This just broke our hearts, to think that these kids we are feeding during the school year ... have nothing to eat [during the summer]," said Tanya Koshowski, the agency's executive director.
Children and families in need simply text "food" to a certain number and they'll be provided with information about how to qualify and where to pick up the food.
"This isn't for entitlement or laziness or taking advantage of something," Koshowskisaid. "It's about families or kids that are in need."
Tanya Koshowski, executive director of Brown Bagging for Calgary Kids, is spearheading a summer pilot program to deliver lunches to children in need. (Bryan Labby/CBC)
Another agency that helps feed hungry Calgarians is the Community Kitchen Program, and it's seeing an increase in demand.It's hoping to feed 15,000 kids this summer.
Lana Avery,one of the staff members at the Community Kitchen Program,says at one of the lunch delivery locations a boy told her he was grateful for the food because he hadn't eaten in three days.
"It broke my heart," Avery said.
Lana Avery, one of 12 employees at Community Kitchen Program of Calgary, says she was heartbroken after a young boy told her he hadn't eaten in three days. (Bryan Labby/CBC)
The Community Kitchen program also provides food hampers to families in need. A separate program distributes boxes of fresh food to individual families at a reduced cost.
The organization is looking to provide more than the 130 current pickup locations because of growing demand.
"People are going through hard times, loss of jobs, not being able to feed their children. They're just everyday citizens like you and me, and they've fallen on hard times," said Sundae Nordin, the non-profit's CEO.
Although some indicators show Alberta's economy is on the rebound, her agency hasn't seen it translate to fewer clients.
Sundae Nordin, CEO of Community Kitchen Program of Calgary, says her agency has seen a definite increase in demand for its services. (Bryan Labby/CBC)
"We are seeing an increase, definitely," Nordin said."The problem is hunger and poverty in our city."
Food banks and children's feeding programs are not the solution, according to Lynn McIntyre, professor emerita of in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University ofCalgary.
"That is absolutely not a solution. Income is a solution," McIntyre said.
She says food banks have risen from being a temporary measure in the 1980s to becoming institutionalized, and have made people think they are part of the solution.
"It really distracts people from understanding what the root cause is," McIntyre said.
Yvonne Stanford, with the Calgary-based Basic Income Action Group, hasbeen advocating for a basic income guarantee for years.
She says boosting wagesto either Calgary's living wage, now estimated at $18.15per hour, or a percentage of the low income cut offcould help reduce poverty and ultimately food insecurity.
Yvonne Stanford is with the group Basic Income Action Group, which advocates for a basic, minimum income to help reduce poverty and food insecurity. (Bryan Labby/CBC)
"From a human rights perspective, every one of us will benefit from a more equal society," Stanford said.
People experiencing food insecurity aremore likely to have any number of chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hyper-tension, mental health disorders, migraines, back problems and asthma, according to a director in nutrition services with Alberta Health Services.
"Even at the marginal level ...your risk of having poor health and poor health outcomes is considerably higher," said Sheila Tyminski.
Sheila Tyminski is a registered dietitian and a director in nutrition services with Alberta Health Services. (Bryan Labby/CBC)
Tyminski says research from Ontario shows health care costs for people who experience marginal to severe food insecurity is 23 per cent to 121 per cent higher compared to people who are considered food secure.
"In the last number of years, we haven't seen any improvement in the rate of household food insecurity. One in six children in Alberta live in a household that experiences food insecurity, and that more than one in 10households in Alberta experiencefood insecurity, that's enormous, that's very significant," Tyminski said.
Children enjoy a lunch that was provided by Food Finder YYC, a pilot program that aims to reach low-income neighbourhoods during the summer months. (Bryan Labby/CBC)
Koshowski says that while she agrees that food banks and children's food programs shouldn't be considered a long-term solution to hungerand poverty, she remains committed to helping those in need.
"We do believe that if kids are in need for food that it does take a village to raise a child. So the community has the resources and the capacity and the desire to actually want to care for kids," Koshowski said.
Michelle Banks, pictured here with her children, Ciara, Kolton and Hayden, says she's gone to the food bank to help feed her family. (Bryan Labby/CBC)
Michelle Banks is grateful.
"It's very importantit's there, especially if you're lacking in food. In some way, you're always covered because there's people who are kind and generous out there to help other people and families," said Banks.
- Why a Universal Basic Income is the solution to inequity - Women's Agenda - June 22nd, 2020
- Crypto Experts Reveal Thoughts: How Will Bitcoin Perform After the COVID-19 Crisis Has Passed? - PRNewswire - June 22nd, 2020
- Interviews: Punks on Politics: Checking in with Mel Gagarin - Punknews.org - June 22nd, 2020
- COVID-19: UN agencies warn against rising hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean - UN News - June 22nd, 2020
- Universal Basic Income: Andrew Yang Was Pushing for It Long Before Coronavirus Pandemic - PopCulture.com - May 9th, 2020
- Coronavirus is a crisis for the developing world, but here's why it needn't be a catastrophe - The Guardian - May 9th, 2020
- Starvation in the time of Corona: momentum for the Universal Basic Dividend - DiEM25 - May 9th, 2020
- Adam Schiff Says Trump's Cult of the President Has Infected the Republican Party - Mother Jones - May 9th, 2020
- Common Arguments Against Basic Income Don't apply to the Emergency BI - Basic Income News - March 31st, 2020
- How a Basic Income And Jobs Guarantee Can Save The Economy From Coronavirus - The National Interest - March 31st, 2020
- I've lived through plenty of social shocks this time we must learn the lessons - The Guardian - March 31st, 2020
- Coronavirus: Iain Duncan Smith says dont bring in universal basic income during pandemic as it would be disincentive to work - The Independent - March 26th, 2020
- Solidarity Economicsfor the Coronavirus Crisis and Beyond - The American Prospect - March 26th, 2020
- We face a war against coronavirus and must mobilise accordingly | Free to read - Financial Times - March 26th, 2020
- Lockdown to fight coronavirus is going to hit most Indian workers very hard - Livemint - March 26th, 2020
- Beware of a lopsided lockdown - The Hindu - March 26th, 2020
- Life, Liberty, and Basic Income | Opinion - Harvard Crimson - February 29th, 2020
- Find ways to improve the revenue of farmers: Congress - The Hindu - January 30th, 2020
- Eliminating Child Poverty With a Government Check - The New York Times - January 30th, 2020
- Andrew Yang Expects 'Many' of His Supporters to Back Sanders in Iowa: We 'Have a Lot of Overlap' - Newsweek - January 30th, 2020
- Trump to let states overhaul Medicaid for the poor, seeking to change Obamacare without legislation - Washington Examiner - January 30th, 2020
- P.E.I. groups say basic Income should not replace addictions, other supports - The Journal Pioneer - January 27th, 2020
- 5 Psychological Forces That Turn People into Political Hacks | Aaron Pomerantz - Foundation for Economic Education - January 13th, 2020
- WAYNE YOUNG: Island voices must be heard - The Guardian - December 15th, 2019
- The Guardian view on Finlands new PM: a different type of leadership - The Guardian - December 15th, 2019
- Basic Income as 40 Acres and a Mule - Basic Income News - October 16th, 2019
- 'Most Americans Don't Want To Work for the Federal Government' Says Andrew Yang, Trashing Federal Jobs Guarantee - Reason - October 16th, 2019
- Democratic debate highlights: best and most substantive answers of the night - Vox.com - October 16th, 2019
- Sanders: 'Damn right we will' have a job for every American | TheHill - The Hill - October 16th, 2019
- Assembly Elections 2019: Why is the Congress evasive about NYAY scheme this poll season? - Moneycontrol.com - October 16th, 2019
- Letter to the Editor: Universal basic income is inevitable as we head toward a fully automated society - The Post - October 16th, 2019
- Democrats focus on some Midwestern issues at Westerville debate, a departure from past three forums - cleveland.com - October 16th, 2019
- New book reviews the Namibian Basic Income pilot - Basic Income News - October 1st, 2019
- Quick notes from Basic Income Guarantee Panel - falicon.com - January 28th, 2019
- 'Hartz reforms': how a benefits shakeup changed Germany ... - January 28th, 2019
- Basic income could end food insecurity - Upstream - January 3rd, 2019
- Basic Income Canada Network - November 17th, 2018
- Basic Income Guarantee - Your Right to Economic Security ... - November 8th, 2018
- The Ethics and Economics of the Basic Income Guarantee ... - September 18th, 2018
- Is a Basic Income Guarantee the Right Choice for Ontario? - June 27th, 2018
- Basic Income Now | It's time for dignity for all - March 17th, 2018
- 'Me too' and the basic income guarantee | Basic Income News - February 6th, 2018
- Food shopping at dollar stores | Brantford Expositor - Brantford Expositor - August 24th, 2017
- How Cities Can Rebuild the Social Safety Net - CityLab - August 24th, 2017
- After lifting minimum wage, NDP government prepares to consult public about reducing poverty - Straight.com - August 16th, 2017
- Universal Basic Infrastructure to help decrease India's poverty - Economic Times - August 14th, 2017
- New Zealand Fabians host Basic Income panel - Basic Income News - August 13th, 2017
- Hashtag Trending Battery-free phone, Apple's China backlash - IT World Canada - August 10th, 2017
- Universal basic income proponent to speak in Boise - Idaho Press-Tribune - August 7th, 2017
- Let's talk about a supplemental income - The Hindu - August 7th, 2017
- Is a Well-Paying Job the next Entitlement Program? - Big Think (blog) - August 5th, 2017
- DON PRIDMORE: Be careful what you wish for... - The Guardian - August 1st, 2017
- EDITORIAL: Island needs dollars, not data, to cope with poverty - The Guardian - July 29th, 2017
- Renfrew County dietitian recognized by board of health for provincial award - www.insideottawavalley.com/ - July 27th, 2017
- NEW ORLEANS, LA, US: Local basic income group begins to hold monthly meetings - Basic Income News - July 25th, 2017
- Value in using tax system for basic income: Report - The Sudbury Star - July 21st, 2017
- Does Basic Income Solve Anything? Grasp the Arguments for and ... - Futurism - July 21st, 2017
- NDP leadership candidate visits Guelph (8 photos) - GuelphToday - July 18th, 2017
- UBI is just a bedtime story Elon Musk tells himself to help the super-wealthy sleep - Quartz - July 14th, 2017
- Basic Income Guarantee program moving forward for 2000 Lindsay residents - Kawartha Media Group - July 8th, 2017
- Net incomes under a Basic Income system - Basic Income News - July 1st, 2017
- Should all Americans receive a guaranteed income? - KHOU - June 24th, 2017
- Should all Americans receive a guaranteed income? - 9NEWS.com - June 21st, 2017
- Should all Americans receive a guaranteed income? - KPNX 12 News TV - June 21st, 2017
- Should all Americans receive a guaranteed income? - First Coast News - June 20th, 2017
- Study of Iran's basic income shows it did not harm employment - Basic Income News - June 7th, 2017
- Basic income plan doable: Northern study - The Sudbury Star - June 6th, 2017
- About That Universal Basic Income Idea - FITSNews - June 6th, 2017
- Universal basic income: guarantee pay as way to improve quality of life - WatertownDailyTimes.com - June 6th, 2017
- Letters: Guaranteed income guarantees sloth - The Province - June 6th, 2017
- Basic-income guarantee is way to end poverty - Times Colonist - March 11th, 2017
- Basic Income in Argentine News - Basic Income News - March 10th, 2017
- Industry body bats for universal basic income for women - Times of India - March 8th, 2017
- A guaranteed income isn't the solution to widespread unemployment - Acton Institute (blog) - March 1st, 2017
- Australia Needs A Universal Basic Income, And We Should Start ... - Huffington Post Australia - February 24th, 2017
- VIDEO: Basic Income presentation at Meeting of the Minds Summit - Basic Income News - February 22nd, 2017
- Ben Wray: Why both the right to work and the right not to work can set us free - CommonSpace - February 20th, 2017
- Expert: We Can Have Universal Basic Income and Jobs - Futurism - Futurism - February 18th, 2017
- World Economic Forum blog: Canada's basic income experiment will it work? - Basic Income News - February 16th, 2017
- Guaranteed basic income proposed. - Bayshore Broadcasting News Centre - February 15th, 2017