Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
June 21, 2010
Food banks create 'cascading morass' McKeon tells MLA's
EDMONTON - The establishment of food banks in Alberta has created a new level of the social welfare system that leads people to beg for food so they can pay their rent and phone bill, says the social justice officer of the Edmonton Archdiocese.
Bob McKeon said the food bank system is also placing undue burdens on volunteer groups and leading them to work casinos in order to raise "easily available funds" to pay for their operations.
"It creates a cascading morass," McKeon told the Alberta legislature's standing committee on the economy June 15.
Responding to questions from Liberal MLAs Kevin Taft and Harry Chase, McKeon said Edmonton's food bank was established in the early 1980s to eliminate the burden parishes and inner city missions had in finding food to distribute to the "relatively small numbers" of people who came to them to be fed.
"The goal was not to provide hampers. The goal was not to set up another level of the social welfare system," said McKeon, who was involved in setting up the Edmonton food bank, the first in Canada.
"Rather, it was to better support those who were doing front-line food work at that time.
"Very quickly," he continued, "within a couple of years, we moved to a different situation where there's hampers for individuals and it becomes institutionalized in a big way."
BEGGING FOR FOOD
One consequence, he noted, is that people can now beg for food, but cannot beg for rent or for money to pay their phone bill.
"A family that seeks to cope will seek to balance their budget by getting available food." The money saved that way will be put towards other expenses that cannot be begged, he said.
McKeon said burdens are created that volunteer Church groups are unable to meet.
"Then we have a society that gets built and that says, 'This is normal; this is right.'"
Alberta society is one of the wealthiest on the planet, he said. "It's not that we lack resources. It's the way that we organize them."
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.