Taken by itself, the answer to solving the hunger problem in Nanaimo is clear – feed those who are hungry.
But, as most people know, life is never that simple.
Hunger is just one symptom of poverty in the city and like illness, must be looked at holistically – part of a bigger picture that incorporates wider aspects of people’s lives.
It’s a very Western idea to treat symptoms rather than an overall illness, like prescribing medication for high-blood pressure rather than treating obesity, anxiety or stress which could lead to the symptom in the first place.
The reliance on the food bank is never a sole symptom. Often, people forced to ask for a free bag of food are also facing issues of affordable housing and various other challenges.
Making housing more affordable frees up income for people to buy quality food that contains fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as whole grains, that will last until the next paycheque.
Bus routes that get people to destinations quickly free up time for cooking and preparing food, exercise and relaxation after work that leads to a good night’s sleep – all things needed for a healthy lifestyle.
The food bank and 7-10 Club are once again pleading for donations as demand for food increases. It’s no longer good enough to clear out the pantry of unwanted canned goods – donations of whole grains, vegetables and dairy are needed.
With a bounty of trees laden with unwanted fruit and food nearing expiry going into grocery store dumpsters, no one should go hungry in Nanaimo if resources are used appropriately.
It’s time to look for a new solution that incorporates a whole person’s well-being and not just their growling stomach.