British Columbia

CBC forum: Why do we still need food banks in a province like B.C.?

The strength of B.C.'s economy is regularly touted by government. But with all that prosperity, why do 100,000 people still need to rely on food banks? A CBC forum in Vancouver, Tuesday, Nov. 15, that is open to the public will ask that question.

CBC forum will look at food banks and food insecurity Nov. 15; tickets are free

Ariela Friedmann with the Greater Vancouver Food Bank says in September 2016, food bank supplies reached an all-time low. A CBC forum will ask why so many British Columbians rely on food banks in a province with a relatively strong economy. (Greater Vancouver Food Bank)

There are nearly 100 food banks across B.C. and they are being pushed to their limits: is this a failure of charity or a failure of policy?

Paul Taylor of the Gordon Neighbourhood House community service organization suggests it's the latter.

Food banks are an essential lifeline for more than 100,000 British Columbians who struggle with food security, but Taylor says they are becoming entrenched and aren't enough to solve problems of poverty.

"There are a number of people accessing food banks that are working full time," he said. "It's pretty absurd that people earning a wage in a city aren't earning enough to live in that city."

Taylor says governments need to take a serious look at why people are accessing food banks. He says those reasons include underemployment, too-low wages, insufficient welfare rates and the amount people are paying for housing.

Free panel discussion open to public

Taylor will join five other panelists on Tuesday, Nov. 15, for a public discussion on the role of food banks in B.C. and what can be done to reduce the need for them.

Those panelists include:

Stephen Quinn, host of CBC Radio One's On The Coast will moderate the free event at St. Andrew's-Wesley United Church (1022 Nelson Street, Vancouver) which is open to the public. You can get tickets here.

The event runs from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. PT. Doors open at 7 p.m.

CBC Radio One will broadcast the event live beginning at 7:30 p.m. You can find your local frequency here.