For immediate release
December 2, 2011
Eastside residents went to the CBC foodbank day today with two messages: We want Justice so we don’t need Charity, and we want the CBC to spend more time covering ways to end poverty and so we don’t have to spend so much time alleviating it.
“We hope the food bank raises lots of money today,” said Roland Clarke, the event’s MC. “If they raise half a million dollars that would be good. That would work out to about $2.78 for every person on welfare and disability in BC. The problem is: People in poverty need more than $2.78 worth of food each year. We need justice.”
After skits and speeches a small delegation from the group went into the CBC to present a donation and a giant thank you card on air. The card said: “Justice Now to End the Need for Charity.” “Thank you CBC. Now make an even bigger difference by providing more coverage on a poverty reduction plan and higher welfare rates.” This is when security guards prevented the six people in the delegation from entering the main room where other members of the public were participating in the radio show.
Before the delegation tried to enter the CBC with its message of “justice so we don’t need charity,” Tina the Charity Turkey also made an appearance, calling for a new group, Turkeys United for Justice so we don’t need Charity. “Welfare is too low,” said Tina, “It needs to be at least $1300 a month so people can pay rent, buy groceries and take transit to look for a job.”
People who donate to the food bank need to do more, said the Turkey. “They can tell the Premier to raise welfare rates so people can buy me with their own money, or preferably buy ham.”
Over and over speakers said that the $610 a month welfare rate for rent, utilities, food, transit, clothes, cleaning supplies, phone and other necessities is not enough to live on.
“Most of what they give you at the foodbank, cans and packaged goods, are past expired, sometimes a year or more,” said Richard Cunningham.
“You have to spend hours in line and then if you live in a SRO and you don’t have a kitchen, you can’t use half of what they give you,” explained another food bank user, Laura Shaver.
Aiyanas Ormond of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users added, “Anyone who’s used a food bank knows that the process is often frustrating, undignified and even humiliating. As a stopgap measure it’s bad enough, but when this becomes institutionalized it becomes another part of the grinding violence of poverty that struggling individuals and families have to endure.”
“It’s the indignity of standing for hours in line for help and then not even being able to use the food they give you,” said Brian Miles. I know I’m in a tough situation, but at times at the foodbank, I’ve felt really humiliated.”
While outside, the group handed out bandaid shaped leaflets asking everyone to email firstname.lastname@example.org urging the Premier to raise welfare rates to $1300 a month. They also asked passers-by to fill out a budget for living on $610 per month for all expenses including looking for work.
Contact: Aiyanas Ormond: 604-315-8766; Dave Diewert: 778 708-5006