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What's the best way to feed the hungry?

8 Apr 2015

Food cards versus food banks.

Woodstock has gone with the former and it’s an idea that has caught the attention of Niagara politicians and agencies helping those living in poverty.

“It’s an interesting concept,” St. Catharines city Coun. Mat Siscoe said of replacing food banks with grocery cards.

“It provides more dignity for users. In the U.S., with food stamps, there’s a lot of stigma attached to it, but in Woodstock, it seems to be different.”

Instead of food banks, where food is collected and kept in warehouses, Woodstock has moved to a program where customers can donate cash at grocery stores. The money is used to fund food cards given to recipients. The cards are only good for non-taxable staple items and allows people to shop for themselves.

Supporters say it’s a more efficient way to help those in need. There would be no need to ship food to food banks, no need for staff to sort through countless donations and no expenses associated with maintaining warehouses.

“Obviously, there are pros and cons, but I’d like to sit down and talk to the people in the poverty community in Niagara about this,” said Siscoe.

Niagara Falls Regional Coun. Selina Volpatti, who is a founding member of Project SHARE in Niagara Falls, said she sees a lot of positives in the card concept. She said some people feel shame when they go to a food bank, a feeling that could be eliminated with cards.

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- By Ray Spiteri, Niagara Falls Review