COLUMN: Valuing volunteers on World Food Day

Ten years ago, we provided hundreds of low-income people with free, nutritious food to prevent hunger in our community.

One of the jobs I had prior to being elected as an MLA was managing the Nelson Food Cupboard, a food bank in my local community.

Ten years ago, we provided hundreds of low-income people with free, nutritious food to prevent hunger in our community. People and businesses of every kind were involved in the endeavor: grocery stores, small business, artists, doctors, chefs, governments, unions, and individual donors.

Yet, all of those contributions would never have made it into the hands of hungry families if it wasn’t for the volunteers.

Leading up to World Food Day, which took place on October 16, I returned to the Nelson Food Cupboard as a volunteer for the day.

I worked next to Kate who was preparing local backyard apples for fresh squeezed apple juice.

Kate has volunteered with the Food Cupboard for three years, and she loves it. She told me she likes that it gets her out of the house and makes her feel like part of the community.

Kate has a disability and receives $906 a month from income assistance. She physically can’t work more than two or three hours a day. This volunteer shift at the Nelson Food Cupboard is what Kate can do for her community.

To help with the added costs of transportation, clothes and food associated with her volunteer work, she receives $100 a month from the Community Volunteer Supplement — a program the Liberals froze in 2011 after promising to replace it with a new one.

More than two years later, the Liberals have not delivered on the new program, leaving countless other volunteers with disabilities unable to access this essential program.

In the two years of waiting for the new program, another volunteer, Andy, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Andy’s illness prevented him from continuing his volunteer job in the kitchen at a local hot lunch program, so he found another volunteer position that better matched his abilities.

To his surprise, he lost the community volunteer supplement’s $100 to cover transportation because the government considered the change a new application, and without a new program, they weren’t taking any new applications.

However, Andy, like the rest of us, can’t live on $906 a month. He has medications, transportation to doctor’s appointments, rent, and bills to pay.

Despite medical advice otherwise, Andy has just started working four to eight hours a week at a janitorial job. He’s happy to have the work, but he also worries about how long he can continue and the toll it could take on his health.

Kate and Andy are living with their disabilities and at $906 a month, living in poverty. Despite the challenges they face, they are still doing what they can to keep others from going hungry.

Countless other British Columbians share Kate and Andy’s story. Many of BC’s volunteers are people with disabilities receiving income assistance. Many of BC’s volunteers are people living in poverty, who are struggling to get enough food themselves. This is not an acceptable way to say thank you to the people who work in our communities feeding our most needy.

On this World Food Day, let’s consider the ways we can work together to stop hunger in our communities. It’s time BC joined Canada’s eight other provinces with a poverty reduction plan. It’s time we made the world a better place, starting right here in our own backyard.

 

– Michelle Mungall is the New Democrat critic for social

development and the MLA for Nelson-Creston

Just Posted

Nelson honours veterans 100 years after end of WWI

Several hundred people gathered at the cenotaph on Sunday

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

Nine-vehicle pileup closes Highway 3 near Castlegar

Two separate incidents on slushy highway; reports of injuries

UPDATE: Police seek witnesses in Castlegar road rampage

Lake Country man faces 13 charges, including robbery, dangerous driving, flight from police, assault with a weapon, theft, and drug charges.

RDCK removes conditions from Kalesnikoff office project

Kalesnikoff says it is still planning to move ahead with new office building project

VIDEO: Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee dies

Marvel co-creator was well-known for making cameo appearances in superhero movies

VIDEO: Newcomer kids see first Canadian snowfall

Children arrived in Canada with their mother and two siblings last week from Eritrea

Calgary 2026 leader expects close vote in Winter Games plebiscite

Residents to choose in a non-binding vote on Tuesday whether they want city to bid on 2026 Olympics

Feds dropped ball with WWI anniversary tributes: historians

Wrote one historian: ‘Other than the Vimy Ridge celebration … I think they have done a very bad job’

Sides ‘far apart’ in Canada Post talks despite mediation, says union

The lack of a breakthrough means rotating strikes will resume Tuesday

Feds’ appeal of solitary confinement decision in B.C. to be heard

Judge ruled in January that indefinite such confinement is unconstitutional, causes permanent harm

B.C. health care payroll tax approved, takes effect Jan. 1

Employers calculating cost, including property taxes increases

Nunavut urges new plan to deal with too many polar bears

Territory recommends a proposal that contradicts much of conventional scientific thinking

Shelter struggles: Landlord takes over rental unit whenever visiting B.C. town

Renter’s story highlights how hard it is to find accommodation in Revelstoke

Most Read