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.”