Being the oldest child, Joseph was plucked from class and sent to work picking coffee for a few neighbours.
Summertime brings its own set of additional pressures that make life that much harder for families who are having a tough time making ends meet.
Climate change is certainly partly to blame for droughts that destroy crops, kill livestock and dry up rivers. However, the main cause of hunger crises is conflict. If the guns were silenced and humanitarian access were restored, it would save more lives in the short term than the return of the rains and crops.
With Earth Day just around the corner, it's a great time to talk about how we can increase our efforts to better care for our planet. Climate change is one of the great challenges of our time, and how we deal with this problem will define our future as a species.
Good nutrition is not only fuel for strong bodies, it also provides power that unlocks potential. This was a lesson I learned from 18-year-old Alima Mbaye, who lives in Thiès, Senegal. Alima and her friends were at a point in their lives where their future and their potential should have been limitless. Instead, malnutrition - and in this case, anemia - was like a brake holding them back.
And feed more than 14,000 people.
Food banks see clients facing these challenges every day, and have responded with innovative programming that not only increases access to healthy food, but turns it into an opportunity to build community. Within the OAFB network, there are food banks in all corners of the province that offer innovative, healthy food options to clients. Here are just a few.
We didn't want charity, especially when we needed it the most. Yet it was the blind kindness of strangers that made the toughest of times a little less daunting. A full belly was one of our first steps towards a fuller life. What was once a source of shame for my family is now an important part of our story.
With the new year upon us, everyone is busy making resolutions to change their lives for the better. While committing to exercise more, eat better, and quit smoking are all laudable goals, why not also set a goal to improve the lives of people in your community?
For the last 40 years, we've been sold a lie about how to solve hunger. It's the kind of deception that sounds so right, so convincing, that we don't even ask questions. We've been told that handing out food to poor, struggling people will fill their need and end their hunger. And yet nothing could be further from the truth.
Over the last 25 years, the number of people suffering from hunger dropped by 50%. Yet, in 2015, there were still 800 million people suffering from hunger in developing countries -- this amounts to twice the population of the entire North American continent.
In 1993, a single person on social assistance would receive $962 in today's dollars. The poverty gap (the difference between total income and the low-income measure) was 20 per cent. Today, that single person on Ontario Works (OW) only receives $681 and experiences a poverty gap of a startling 59 per cent.
Second Harvest saved 8.2 million pounds of food destined for the dumpster in 2015, and they've rescued 100 million pounds total.
As school bells rang out across the country signalling the start of another school year, Canadians were once again reminded of the power, potential and importance of education. But imagine starting the first day of school frustrated, tired and hungry.
The fact that food is discarded because we "have too much" or because it doesn't look right, or enough wasn't sold and it can be thrown away without a second thought goes to show that this food management program is not working right. We as a society need to learn the importance of eating locally and seasonally.
Public awareness of food waste is currently at an all-time high. Every day seems to bring news of entrepreneurs, researchers and experts who are talking about wasted food and food rescue. All of this attention makes Second Harvest's Executive Director Debra Lawson hopeful that awareness will translate to action.
In 2017, the Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) will turn 25 years old. We are deeply proud of the role our network has played over the past quarter century to support communities across Ontario. Food banks have grown from being a resource for emergency food support to multi-service centres that offer innovative programs to help clients move beyond hard times.
In 2015, Ontario saw a 35% jump in the number of senior citizens visiting food banks. It's a trend Second Harvest sees daily on its delivery routes. Last year, 70% of Second Harvest's agency partners noted that they serve seniors. Some agency partners, like Loyola Arrupe Centre for Seniors (LACS), are built specifically around servicing the needs of this growing and vulnerable population.
Looking at the food system in Canada is a study in contrasts. On one hand, one in eight Canadian families struggle to put food on the table, and over 800,000 people visit a food bank each month. On the other hand, we waste $31 billion in food each year, or a third of what we produce. How can a country with so much abundance also have such great need? As with any problem that is so enormous in scale, the reasons are complex, the impacts are wide-ranging, and the solutions are far from easy.
While the old adage tells us to waste not and want not, all too often surplus food ends up uneaten. Canada's mounting amount of wasted food is costing consumers and cutting into the country's overall economy output. Canada's economy is losing the equivalent of two per cent of its entire GDP each year to food waste.