A recent article in the Toronto Star looks at an alternative system to food banks set up in Oxford County, Ontario that asks people to donate money at the checkout counter towards food cards rather than donating non-perishable items. The intent behind this idea is well-intentioned – create a system of assistance that provides greater respect and dignity towards people in need to have some control over their purchases. But is this approach the most effective way to help?

While providing a food card is an improvement over the type of supports we have embraced through the traditional food bank system, it is still a band aid solution to address the shortfalls of low wages, inadequate social assistance rates, high housing costs, and other social safety net needs.