The Dignity for All campaign calls on the federal government to legislate and implement an anti-poverty plan which would include a National Right to Food policy. This would include mechanisms to identify and reduce threats to availability and the reduction of barriers for people who are geographically isolated. Food security is just one element that must be considered for the elimination of poverty.

Canadian food banks hope that the pinch they’re feeling from rising food prices isn’t snowballing into a full-fledged crisis.

While each agency has unique circumstances, many say higher prices during the peak winter period are limiting how much food they can purchase and having an impact on donations while also spurring a greater demand for their services.

“Unfortunately, it is a sad reality that the lives of people living in deepest poverty has not changed,” said Tom Cooper, director of the Roundtable for Poverty Reduction.

Cooper added people living in poverty face more challenges than 10 years ago — higher rents, fewer vacancies for low-income earners, homeless shelters at capacity, longer subsidized housing waiting lists, increased food bank needs, and tighter eligibilities for employment insurance making it difficult to access.

Cooper said it’s shameful that the provincial government has “institutionalized poverty and food banks” by making them permanent realities for those on social assistance.

It’s frustrating that despite years of advocating for anti-poverty measures that Hamilton — and Canada — still experiences high levels of poverty, he said.

Access to healthy food continues to be a problem for many low income people in our district. The Cost of Healthy Eating Report 2015 shows that a family of four receiving Ontario Works spends about 90% of their monthly income on rent and food. This leaves only $200 for utilities, clothing, toiletries, transportation, school costs, childcare, phone, etc.

The Board of Health passed a resolution last night calling on the provincial government to prioritize the investigation of a basic income guarantee. This income security program would ensure a basic income for all, indexed to inflation, regardless of employment status.

What is food security? As defined at the 1996 World Food Summit, “food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”

Studies indicate that the poorer a person is, the more likely that person is to have anxiety, high blood pressure and health conditions like heart disease.

The consequences of food insecurity are worrying from humanitarian and policy perspectives. People who don’t have proper diets get sick more often, making it harder to keep a job and apartment, and taxing the health-care system. Children who grow up hungry are behind the eight ball when it comes to how they will do at school and how healthy they will be into adulthood.

Welland city councillors hope to help influence a major change in the way the 14.9 per cent of Canadians living in poverty are assisted.

Councillors Tuesday night added their support to a motion from the City of Kingston to lobby the federal and provincial governments to work towards developing a basic income guarantee for all Canadians.

“People living in poverty right now are vulnerable and they’re open to social difficulties, health issues and more stress,” said Councillor Bonnie Fokkens.

Poverty, she said, can lead to problems in society that cost more to deal with than resolving poverty itself.