Entrench Compassion In The Law 2009: Opportunities Giving

Entrench compassion in the law

The opportunities for giving are endless.
Food drives, volunteering, fundraising dinners, charity golf tournaments — they all provide us with the chance to give of our time, services and money. In my work with Loving Spoonful Food Distribution Workshop, we reclaim surplus perishable food from grocers, restaurants and farmers for distribution to meal programs in Kingston. These programs arose, along with food banks, in the 1980s as emergency measures to address a temporary social and economic crisis. They’ve never gone away. In fact, the need for these services keeps growing. Meal program usage in Kingston has gone up about 40% in the past year. Everyone working on the front lines in the emergency food sector is scrambling to keep up. The staff in these programs — paid and volunteer — are amazing. The cooks are the “iron chefs” of Kingston, taking whatever ingredients are available through purchase and donation and creating nutritious and tasty meals day after day. But the challenges are huge. The daily work of sourcing and preparing food, co-ordinating volunteers, dealing with freezers breaking down or the sink backing up, and so on, are exacerbated by sharp price increases in basic foods. With the combination of funding cuts, cost increases and a rapidly swelling clientele, food providers have to rely more and more on volunteerism and the private charitable impulse to get the job of feeding people done. Thankfully, the people of Kingston come through time and again with charitable giving through a variety of campaigns. We truly appreciate Kingstonians’ generosity. We couldn’t do it without them and we thank them. But then what As I drive around the city, the question that I keep coming back to is this: How do we leverage this remarkable human impulse for charity into action for social justice If you want to do more (and I know most do), the next time you arrive home from your charity golf tournament or from a food drive event, take one more step. Sit down and write a letter to your elected representatives. Demand that the minimum wage be a living wage. Demand that social assistance rates rise to meet the cost of living. Demand an increase to the Canada Child Tax Benefit. Demand universal child care. These are the kinds of policy changes that will make a real and lasting difference to people living on low incomes.
We all deserve to live in a caring society. The culture of compassion has to exist not only in our personal desire to help. It must be entrenched in public policy and law.

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