‘It’s time to end the need for food banks’ says UBC prof

Quinn Ohler, Global News

A UBC professor emeritus has written an open letter to Premier John Horgan asking for food to become a basic right, in the same manner as healthcare.

Graham Riches, who is the former director of the university’s school of social work, says food banks were created in the 1980s as something temporary, but have now been incorporated into the system and are serving as a “Band-Aid solution.”

LISTEN: Graham Riches joins Jon McComb to talk about how it’s time to close foodbanks
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“Really it’s shameful that in a country as wealthy as Canada and as [a province as] wealthy as B.C. that we have charitable food banks feeding hungry people,” said Riches.

“A very basic human need is actually food, and people’s access to it, it’s something that actually should be a collective responsibility.”

Riches said the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey found 485,000 British Columbians were in a state of food insecurity.

“These are the people who worry about not being able to feed themselves and their families, had to change the amount and kind of food they were buying and also those who were worried and running out of food,” said Riches.

WATCH: Food bank use across B.C. is on the rise

Click to play video: 'Food bank use across B.C. is on the rise'
Food bank use across B.C. is on the rise

He said out of those 485,000, more than 100,000 British Columbians were accessing food banks, which he said showcases the scale of the problem.

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“Of course no one wants to pay more taxes, but on the other hand, if a basic human need is actually being unaddressed then I think we have a very serious issue.”

He said Premier Horgan needs to show leadership and take action on the matter, adding that food banks are not capable of solving the problem.

He said only one in four people who are food insecure will actually use a food bank.

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