Everyone on welfare is ravenous. How can you not be, when you are living on $606 a month? Most clients at the Stop Community Food Centre live on less than $6 a day, after paying for rent.

We’d come to The Stop at lunch to eat, but first to listen to Olivier De Schutter, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the right to food, talk about his report on Canada.

De Schutter spent 10 days travelling from Montreal to Edmonton last May, visiting farmers, first nations bands, government and activist offices as well as food banks, including The Stop on Davenport Rd. just west of Caledonia Park Rd., where Norman told him about the cucumber from heaven.

On Monday, he delivered his report to the United Nations Council on Human Rights in Geneva. He was broadcast live into The Stop’s dining hall on a movie screen.

A taste of his message about Canada to the UN …

A United Nations representative says Canada needs a national food strategy.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food toured the country in May and his report was just released.

Olivier De Schutter says he’s “disconcerted by the deep and severe food insecurity” facing Inuit and aboriginal people in Canada.

De Schutter says the minimum wage needs to be increased so people can afford to buy food, and the housing system needs improvement so that poor families do not have to sacrifice food to pay rent.

That struck a chord with Diana Bronson, the executive director of Food Secure Canada — a national organization aimed at eliminating hunger.

“I think what the special rapporteur has done is given voice to a lot of these concerns at really the highest international level,” Bronson said.

The face of poverty in Niagara and the nation grew younger than ever as summer turned to fall.

More than half of the faces flowing through the doors of Community Care of St. Catharines and Thorold around back-to-school time were kids, said executive director Betty-Lou Souter. All in all, 53% of their clients were children. The normal ratio is 38%.

And yet, Niagara’s not alone, says a report from the Conference Board of Canada. Among 17 compared nations, Canada ranks a dismal 15th in child poverty and working-age poverty alike.

Peggy Wilmot recalls a young mother walking through the door at St. John the Divine to collect her monthly quota from the church’s food bank.

Wilmot was excited to tell her about the Good Food Box program, a $6 hamper of affordable produce sourced from local farmers. “We started bringing in sample boxes, showing people what they could get,” she says.

The woman seemed interested, but when she found out the price of the fresh kale, squash and root vegetables, she said she simply couldn’t afford it.

“She said, ‘I get $610 a month, and my rent is $640. There’s nothing left over. In fact, I still have to scramble to figure out how I can make up the difference,’” Wilmot says.

Victoria councillors want to help eliminate the need for food banks within five years.

Councillors last week unanimously endorsed a resolution put forward by Coun. Lisa Helps pledging to encourage the provincial and federal governments to eliminate the need for food banks by 2018.

The resolution also calls on the city to help support community and government agencies and the private sector to establish programs that build knowledge and skills “to help people move towards healthier and more secure and dignified access to nutritious food.”

Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak’s suggestion that Ontario should cut back social assistance for able-bodied recipients who have received income support for a long time is a “horrible idea,” according to Janet Gasparini, executive director of the Social Planning Council of Sudbury.

“I think it’s very clear people on social assistance live with far too little money to allow them to participate in the community,” Gasparini said. “Even if there were jobs for all these people, which of course there aren’t — we’re all sitting in communities with unemployment rates of 7% or higher — it’s very hard to look for a job when you don’t have a safe roof over your head or food in your belly.”