Closing the food gap needs co-operation, selflessness

Reporter's columns speaks to the need for food and to fill the large gap between those who can eat and those who cannot.

There has always been a gap between those with little to none and those with plenty.

That can be a reference to money, material items, personality or even strange ideas.

However, over the past 20 years or so, the gap that continues to grow and is probably the one most troubling, is that with food.

It would be extremely easy to sit here and talk about the people in countries in Africa and the Middle East that everyone in the so-called developed world has known for decades regarding their struggles to find or grow enough food.

No, what I am focusing on is right in our own backyard.

As far back as I can remember, there were hard times and people found it very difficult to get by. Even when the money wasn’t always there to buy enough food, somehow a way was found be it friends helping out, family providing a bit of assistance, being able to scrounge from what some didn’t want in their gardens or be able to dig it out of your own garden.

However, in the move toward a more urban-based society with people exiting rural areas in droves and land at an exclusive premium in larger centres, it’s meant a few things have changed.

First off, there are fewer and fewer people with the plot of land available to grow most of their own vegetables or even have a friend nearby that would often lend a bit of space for someone to grow some food. That leaves most of the population to rely on the grocery store.

Secondly, with that reliance, people have been conditioned to not accept food that doesn’t look absolutely perfect. Having grown up on a farm while also having to deal with a lack of adequate food at times during my life, just because it isn’t the shape or colour you might want it to be, it almost always tastes just as good and is just as nutritious.

Next, and I can’t really understand why this has gotten to be the case, people have begun to be less neighbourly toward each other.

For those of you that can, do you remember when even if you lived in the city or a larger town, you at least knew nearly everyone in your community. In the small town I grew up in, it was even more close knit since it was very strange if you saw someone uptown and didn’t know who they were.

Nowadays, you’re fortunate if you know the name of the person who lives next door or any of the people that live in the same complex, let alone having a good number of great friends in the community.

Sure, if you live in a place long enough or have a job that connects you with a big chunk of the community, it will seem like you know a lot of people and you might be able to count on at least some of them. However, not everyone has all of those connections anymore and that’s led us to where society is now.

Back in the recession of the 1980s, there was no such thing as a food bank. Now, food banks are in towns with less than 1,000 people and having to provide food and other basic items because these people have nowhere else to turn.

With the recent downturn in the economy, food bank use has skyrocketed in some places by as much as five times normal and the food banks are having to cut back what they provide in order to have enough for everyone.

What does that tell us about where we are right now? I understand those that really can give or share, but what about those that don’t? What about those businesses that are tossing out perfectly good food? What about government regulations that are hindering the use of that food or ways to make it easier for those that are in need?

I don’t pretend to have the answers, but I’ve been through this and try my best to help when and where I can. You have to ask yourself Am I?

But that is…just an observation.