Victoria wants to end food-bank need within five years

Victoria councillors want to help eliminate the need for food banks within five years.

Councillors last week unanimously endorsed a resolution put forward by Coun. Lisa Helps pledging to encourage the provincial and federal governments to eliminate the need for food banks by 2018.

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The resolution also calls on the city to help support community and government agencies and the private sector to establish programs that build knowledge and skills “to help people move towards healthier and more secure and dignified access to nutritious food.”

The resolution came from Faith in Action, a multi-faith initiative in support of the poor, which is hoping similar resolutions will be passed by municipalities across the province in an effort to make access to food a provincial election issue, Helps said.

“In some ways, it’s a motherhood resolution, but if every municipality in the province says food’s important, then maybe the province will see it that way, too,” Helps said.

The resolution is more than a declaration that people shouldn’t go hungry, Helps said.

“It’s also that every level of government has some responsibility in that regard.”

In many respects, food banks give governments and residents an easy way out, Helps said.

“If you take your requisite goods to the food bank once a year then you can feel like you’ve done something good. And you have. I’m not saying that you haven’t but that’s not enough.”

There is a common misperception that anyone who is hungry can just go to a food bank for food, she said.

“There are three food banks and [users] can access each food bank once a month. So when you do the math, that’s not a lot of food.”

Victoria’s department of sustainability notes the city is active in a number of food-related initiatives, including allowing backyard chickens, edible community gardens in parks and Centennial Square, and a certified commercial kitchen facility available for rent by small-scale food processors, food businesses, organizations and individuals through Fairfield-Gonzalez Community Place.

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