United Way links food security to other causes of poverty

·1 min read

Paul Wagenaar of United Way, Jill Umbach of the Grey Bruce Poverty Task Force, and several others from Grey County and the South-East Grey CHC were online for a presentation to council about food security at the first council meeting in May.

They spoke about a digital tool recording data about food programs in the two counties. Among other statistics, the program collects weight of food, volunteer hours and numbers of households.

They said they did not want to create more work for local programs, but would take whatever information the food banks already collect (numbers, not names) and share it.

The presentation by Mr. Wagenaar said that much food help now offered relies on volunteers such as senior citizens.

Ms Umbach expressed frustration with the small number of staff working on food issues. “I feel strongly we need to be looking to hire more people,” she said.

Food banks at best are a “bandaid,” presenters said, and decision-makers must pay attention to broader causes of poverty such as the lack of safe and affordable housing.

The South East Grey Community Health Centre prepares frozen meals for delivery by volunteers but the special funding source has recently ended.

There is some funding now, but not enough, Geoff Van Geem, health promoter for South East Grey CHC representative said.

United Way received $1.3 million in COVID-19 aid last year with $1.2 million dispersed and $175,000 deferred according to its 2020 report.

M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald

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