Food bank use swells after cancellation of basic income

Roderick Benns

Nearly 300 additional people reached out to Kawartha Lakes Food Source for help in the past month, just as the PC government’s premature cancellation of the Ontario Basic Income Pilot had taken effect.

According to General Manager Heather Kirby, of Kawartha Lakes Food Source, there were 1,164 people seeking help this past month across Kawartha Lakes, including Lindsay – a rise of 267 new people. Of note is that 404 are children.

“I’ve seen a 100-plus jump in the past,” says Kirby, “but never this many people all of a sudden.”

This does not even include numbers from other food banks not affiliated with Food Source, such as the Salvation Army.

Kirby agreed that this must be attributable on some level to the cancellation of basic income and said staff members have certainly heard first hand the desperate stories people have shared when they apply for help to Food Source.

Donations Needed

With this many extra people suddenly applying for help though, Food Source finds itself in desperate need of donations.

“This jump in numbers will certainly affect our inventory, especially perishables.”

Kirby says right now, before the new numbers are taken into account, Food Source can only give someone six eggs per month, which is a relatively inexpensive, simple protein. There is a great need for both eggs and milk and this is most helpfully given as a monetary donation. To help with a donation, go here.

Coming Together

In the aftermath of the basic income pilot, Kawartha Lakes Food Source, A Place Called Home, and the Salvation Army church will be hosting a series of four meals to bring previous recipients of basic income together.

The four meals over four months will be held May 15 from Noon to 2 pm, June 19 from 4-6 pm, July 17 from Noon to 2 pm, and August 21 from 4 -6 pm. The meals will be held upstairs in the Salvation Army Community Room at 30 Peel Street in Lindsay. Local police officers, including a representative from the Lindsay Advocate, will be on hand to help with the cooking.

The premise, says A Place Called Home’s Executive Director, Lorrie Polito, was to offer a simple meal (spaghetti, salad, buns and a small dessert) to former recipients of basic income “in a setting where they can network with each other, share helpful ideas, get legal advice and have conversations with other professionals,” she says.

Lawyer and social worker Mike Perry will also be on hand to discuss what’s happening with the class action lawsuit.

Everyone knows each other’s stories, Polito says, so it’s not really a time for that. It’s more about coming together to figure out how to get through each day while advocacy for better social policies continues in the background.

“We are hoping to even look for a small light up ahead even if we have to build that light ourselves,” says Polito.

Other community organizations will be on hand for advice or support, including Housing Help, Legal Aid, and Canadian Mental Health Association.

This story was originally published in The Lindsay Advocate.