Holiday food drives: Tossing a can of beans into a donation bin is hardly enough

The Conversation

The price of food is expected to climb dramatically in 2021 at a time when many Canadians can barely afford to feed their families, following the economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yet to kick off the “season of giving,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau posted a pre-Thanksgiving video to Twitter asking Canadians to pick up “an extra item or two for the local food bank and help a family in need.”

Trudeau collected non-perishables at a Metro supermarket, emptied his purchases into a donation bin and assured us that buying food from the grocery retail oligopoly to support local food banks is the Canadian way.

It certainly seems to be the government’s way, having invested $200 million through the Emergency Food Security Fund to support food banks and food organizations during the pandemic.

The problem, however, is that this approach fails to reduce food insecurity.

Canadians have an enshrined right to food, but our government contorts food into a gift to those living with food insecurity. This corporatized approach to charity ignores the blatant creation of food insecurity along lines of race, Indigeneity, gender, parenting and relationship status, housing status, precarious labour and social assistance participation. But more than this, the approach simply doesn’t work.

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