Brown paper lunch bags containing an apple kicked off conversations about hunger around Red Deer Wednesday.
Members with Central Alberta Poverty Reduction Alliance (CAPRA) were handing out the lunch bags as part of its second annual Chew on This!campaign.
“This year we decided to combine it with our alliance meeting, which happened today, so that members could take bags with them and disperse them among their contact groups, their circle of influence, people they work with,” said Dianna Souveny, CAPRA member and community facilitator with the city’s social planning department.
“We filled 290 bags with apples and information about the Dignity for All campaign, which is a federal campaign about poverty reduction and creating a national strategy, as well as information about CAPRA,” Souveny said while handing out bags at the downtown Red Deer Public Library at noon.
She said bags included a pre-stamped postcard addressed to Federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Jean-Yves Duclos so people can show their support for a national strategy.
Dignity for All: The campaign for a poverty-free Canada, is a non-partisan campaign supported by more than 11,000 individuals, 700 local and national organizations, and 60 members of parliament and senators. Two organizations co-ordinating the campaign are Canada Without Poverty and Citizens for Public Justice.
More than 38,000 people used the Red Deer Food Bank in 2016, and in September 2017 822 hampers were distributed. That means the food bank helped feed 1,937 men, women and children last month alone.
In Canada, more than 900,000 people visit food banks each month, and one in eight families struggle daily to put food on the table.
Thomas Bilsborrow, who received his Chew on This! lunch bag while walking through the library, said the federal government should be focusing on poverty reduction.
“They seem to spend a lot of money doing other things. They have to address this problem of homelessness, and drug-related problems, and mental health problems, all social problems,” Bilsborrow said.
He said poverty is also an issue for the local community to address.
“What I kind of notice is that people don’t really get involved unless it happens to their children, or their grandchildren. I guess people are naturally like that.”
CAPRA is working on a city-wide poverty reduction needs assessment with a $50,000 grant it recently received from the City of Red Deer.
“We will be talking to different groups of people and populations that are struggling whether it’s persons with disabilities, or some of our homeless, or those people that are utilizing our food bank because they are food insecure,” Lori Jack with CAPRA said.