I love Christmas time, I love everything about it. I love the music, the decorations, the chill in the air and the big dinner with friends and family. What I don’t like about Christmas, is knowing that there is an ever increasing amount of people living in our city who don’t get to enjoy these things as they should and struggle each day to make ends meet. Over the years, I have tried to hammer this message home with the optimism that those living in poverty will someday receive the assistance they need to at the very least have a roof over their heads and enough to eat.
Having worked with Partners in Mission Food Bank for 25 years now, I have seen only marginal, incremental improvements in how we as a society deal with poverty and I have to say there is no net improvement for the folks we assist. Even if employment was the panacea for those living in poverty [and it’s not] we would still have people who are suffering from a myriad of physical and mental health issues who are unable to work. The jobs in the service and retail sectors are still not sufficient in allowing people to earn a living wage and even though we are about to see the minimum wage increase in 2018 the commitment of full time hours is just not there. This is wrong and is unacceptable in a country as prosperous as Canada.
All this to say the need for services like ours are as essential now as they were when we started 33 years ago. Last year was our busiest year on record with well over 12,000 hampers going out the door and by the end of 2017 we will be another 4% higher in demand for service. The challenges we face moving forward are still the same, responding to Government inaction and an unbalanced economy. Add to this the projected increase in food costs for 2018 and we will no doubt see more folks coming to our facility for help.
So how does one enjoy the spirit of Christmas knowing all of this is going on? Regardless of all these challenges and in spite of financial inequity it is the organic and grassroots support of communities that give us all hope and make it easier to face another day. What I also love about Christmas is that I get to see first-hand year after year, what can happen when the generosity of our community comes together in support of its charities. We are sincerely grateful to you Kingston for what you have given us this year and we hope that you will continue to donate into 2018. It looks like it might be a tough one.
From all of us here at Partners in Mission Food Bank we extend best wishes for the Christmas season and happy and healthy New Year.
Partners in Mission Food Bank