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Hunger a problem with solutions

No one should have to go hungry. That was one thing community members meeting to discuss how to improve St. Paul’s food bank could all agree upon.

No one should have to go hungry. That was one thing community members meeting to discuss how to improve St. Paul’s food bank could all agree upon.

Community members have been discussing how to improve the food bank service after learning of a few cases where people requested food and for whatever reason, such as food shortages or restricted hours of the food bank, they were denied.

Although the food bank is housed at the Mannawanis Native Friendship Centre Society, it is really St. Paul and district’s food bank. Both Mannawanis’ Executive Director Hinano Rosa and community agency representatives agree that this should mean the responsibility of running the food bank is one that rests not just with Mannawanis, but the community as a whole.

In the long run, to improve the service may mean having a board or committee to oversee the food bank and ensure it is run as effectively as possible, or it may even mean moving the food bank to a different location to make it more accessible. Either way, the discussions on how to improve the service are vital given that people are trying to feed their families and not getting as much help as the food bank could potentially provide.

At Christmas time, moved by the spirit of goodwill, hampers and gifts overflow for those less fortunate. But the need to feed those who would go hungry does not end on Dec. 25 but carries on year-round. Rosa points out there are unsung heroes that donate regularly to the food bank, from businesses such as Sobeys, Co-op and Kookum’s Bakery, to Bethel Family Worship Centre, which donated $10,000 worth of food this year, to individuals who make regular monetary donations. All these people deserve praise, but hopefully, their acts inspire others to do the same.

Even those who are too busy to commit the time to a board or a committee, or to volunteer at the food bank, can still do their bit to help out by purchasing extra items on their weekly trip to the grocery store. It would go a long way to ensuring that St. Paul and area’s most vulnerable citizens do not have to worry about how to stretch a minimum wage income to buy groceries or worry about where to find their children’s next meal.

In a land where many of us have so much food that we throw it away, as United Church Minister Marie Barr says, there has to be a better way to connect the people who have food with those who need it.