Discussing Hunger in Canada with Calgary Food Bank's Morissa Choptain
Early last week, we sat down with Morissa Choptain from the Calgary Food Bank to discuss her views on the state of hunger and food insecurity in Canada.
Tell us a bit about yourself and why you chose to become involved with the Calgary Food Bank.
My name is Morissa Choptain and I am a Resource Development Coordinator with the Calgary Food Bank. I have the pleasure of working closely with different organizations, groups and volunteers helping to organize different fundraising initiatives.
What does the Calgary Food Bank do?
The Calgary Food Bank is an emergency food distribution hub. We gather and distribute quality emergency food to individual Calgarians and the agencies and programs that serve them.
What factors do you believe are causing an increase in household food insecurity and reliance on food bank use in Canada?
There are many different reasons across Canada as to why there may be an increase in food insecurity. Right now in Calgary we are seeing an increase as a result of the Alberta floods that devastated many areas this spring/summer. We have seen an increase in people who have never had a need to access any kind of social service now looking for support.
A 2003 study, showed only one-third of the food insecure population access a food bank in Canada. Why would someone experiencing food insecurity not seek assistance from a food bank?
There are many reasons as to why someone experiencing food insecurity may not access a Food Bank. It can be a situation where pride gets in the way, a thought pattern that your situation is not bad enough for you to seek assistance or there may be a lack of understanding about the different social services and resources that are available to you and how to access them.
Is the food being donated to food agencies in Canada nutritionally adequate? Why or Why not?
The Calgary Food Bank works closely with the Food Industry and receive a variety of perishable and non-perishable items through this partnership. Along with the support of donations from the community The Calgary Food Bank strives to have each hamper include all of the recommended serving amounts of each different food group as it is represented in Canada’s Food Guide. Hampers are designed to be enough food for every member of the family for a minimum of 1 week. To ensure that we are meeting the requirements of Canada’s Food Guide we will use fundraising dollars to purchase most needed items such as canned protein, milk and eggs.
What are the high priority items that Trick or Eat households should be donating to their local food agencies on Halloween night?
Canned forms of protein or canned green vegetables are items we would love to see.
In your opinion, how does an event like Trick or Eat help Canadian communities?
Trick or eat is a great way to get youth involved in philanthropy. It is a great opportunity for youth to be out in the community doing something for the community, and it’s a lot of fun!
There are those that argue the best way to change course in assisting the hungry is to eliminate the dependency on food banks by shutting them down immediately. What are your thoughts on this approach?
The Calgary Food Bank is proactive in addressing the ‘why’ clients are experiencing food insecurity and work diligently with more than 100 local agencies to ensure they receive the appropriate support.
What final message would you like to share with those reading this interview about food insecurity, food bank use, and/or policy change?
Hunger is merely a symptom of much larger social issues. Through our collaboration with different agencies we work to ensure our clients get the support they need.
For more information about the Calgary Food Bank please visit www.calgaryfoodbank.com.