The face of poverty is changing. This woman is feeding more mouths than ever

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The face of hunger is changing in London, Ontario, as more people feel the effects of food insecurity close to home.

Londoners working on the frontline of the food crisis are finding registration numbers needs as food prices soar. At Ark Aid Mission, food needs have more than doubled during the pandemic. Now about 150 people come for lunch and 200 for dinner. Just a few years ago, around 60 people would stop for a meal, staff said.

The increase relates to Amy Ford, who works as a food and nutrition officer at Ark Aid Street Mission. She has seen the effects of food insecurity firsthand, and more and more people are grappling with rising expenses.

« I’ve seen hunger change a lot in London, » said Ford, who started volunteering at the mission more than 20 years ago before joining staff this fall. « I think poverty, homelessness and hunger are only spreading to so many more people. »

Despite slowing inflation, food continues to cost more. In fact, he rises to his fastest pace since 1981 — and more people are feeling the pinch.

Medical students from Western University participate in the Tuesday morning vegetable cut at the Ark Aid Street Mission. The mission serves food daily from the First Baptist Church on Richmond Street. (Michelle Both/CBC)

The result is hundreds of different faces in need of emergency hunger remedies.

« People may not realize that some of the people who eat here actually have jobs, and they just don’t make enough money to pay for all the necessities of life, » said Ford, who added seasonal jobs, inflation, job loss. , barriers related to disabilities and breakups are just some of the reasons she heard about people needing a meal.

The people who used to get by really aren’t, she says.

« We also hear, unfortunately, of families who don’t have enough. Sometimes the children will be able to eat, but the parents have to come and have a bite to eat, and it’s always very heartbreaking. »

Food insecurity hit a record high this year in London, with 20,000 people unable to afford food, according to the London Food Bank.

Ark Aid provides daily meals from their temporary location at First Baptist Street at 568 Richmond Street, as well as laundry and clothing facilities, while their Dundas Street building is undergoing renovations.

According to Ford, food insecurity in London is a problem that needs to be tackled from a two-pronged approach – with emergency solutions to immediate needs as well as systems-based thinking leading to larger solutions. that could “eliminate the need for nonprofits to feed people because our city is thriving in ways that people can access food in more dignified ways.”

ark aid kitchen
First-year medical students Emily Horsey and Erica Jeong prepare food for a meal with volunteer Richard Ford on Tuesday morning. (Michelle Both/CBC)

« Everything is connected »

The fight against food insecurity brought Ford to Ottawa last week to attend Hunger on the Hill with farmers, nutritionists, researchers and advocates across Canada with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

On CBC Afternoon driveGordon Janzen of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank said: “It has been a particularly challenging year in terms of global food security, with the number of people suffering from hunger crises worldwide rising by 40 million to 193 million.

While Ford’s advocacy work focused on the world, she saw a strong connection to hunger in London.

« We have a global food system, and what happens in other countries affects what happens here, » she said.

“Hunger, whether it happens on the street or far from a place I’ve never been, is an injustice. And as Canadians, we need to do something about it. For me, everything is connected.

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