Around this time of the year the good residents of London Ontario are asked to dig deep and make food donations to those who aren’t so lucky to have the same ready access to food that most of us do. The driver of the London Cares Curb Hunger Food Drive is the City itself, accompanied by an extensive roster of community partners. As one of those partners it seems to me that it is well organized and tries to add something new each year to keep up the interest level (for instance this year the various firehalls acted as drop off locations). This food drive concept is pretty simple. Put out non-perishable food beside your Blue Box and someone will come collect it. Pretty easy.
However, as detailed in a recent London Free Press story http://www.lfpress.com/2016/06/19/the-annual-campaign-ended-over-the-weekend-with-its-second-worst-showing-in-at-least-a-decade donations in recent years have started to sag. While 43,000 pounds is pretty substantial and will provide food to many people giving is down this year from the average of about 65,000 pounds. It is human nature to become tired of hearing about the same thing to the point where maybe you don’t hear it anymore. It is a sad statement that at our local food bank and other organizations demand always seems to be greater. That means regular appeals to donate food; the London Cares program being just one of those food drives.
Maybe after 20 successful years (and quite frankly it is still successful) it is time for a rethink or rebuild of this particular food drive. How do you get people excited enough to buy food and set it out by their Blue Box? Does telling them that 3,500 clients per month visit the food bank help? Or how about that Ontario residents throw out 2.5-3.5 kilograms of food every week? Or how about that about 35% of the garbage in the garbage bag consists of food waste? If you knew how to manage your food a bit better would you contribute some of your savings to organizations like the food bank. I would argue that right now we have enough food available between what we consume and what we throw away.
Londoners are pretty generous people but we live in a time where donations need to go up, not down. We need to challenge ourselves to find a way to make this happen while not losing sight of the more fundamental issue of getting our society to a point where food security, this most basic human right, is no longer an issue.