AMHERST – Apples were handed out around Amherst today, as a reminder that not everyone has enough to eat.
In fact, 4.8 million Canadians live in poverty, many of them right here in Cumberland County, and today’s effort was a part of Chew on This!, a national campaign by Dignity for All in observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
Colleen Dowe and Veronica Richards stopped by Dayle’s Grand Market on Tuesday, where they joined Hal Davidson and Kathy Legere in handing out the apples along with an information card to cabinet minister Jean-Yves Duclos calling for a national poverty education strategy.
“If people take responsibility for contacting their elected officials, then people are becoming more active and proactive, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” said Richards. “We’re not trying to say there are poor people in Cumberland County – we know that, and poor people know that. We want them to move a step further and try to do something.”
Initiated by the SOAR Community Health Board, this is the first year the campaign has been taken on locally. Organizations such as the Cumberland YMCA, Holy Family Church, and Empowering Beyond Barriers were all involved in the effort to distribute 400 of the apples and cards on Tuesday.
The apples were supplied by Sobeys and Superstore.
There are 860,000 people in Canada using food banks each month, and millions of others struggling to get by.
“We need affordable housing, we need income, we need jobs, mental health services, income assistance needs reform, EI needs reform… all those programs need to be changed,” said Richards.
While supporting your local food bank and other charities is necessary to help those in need, a comprehensive federal plan is needed to eradicate poverty, according t o Dowe, who was hopeful Tuesday’s effort helped spread that message.
“I would like to have made more people aware that poverty is an issue, and it’s all of our business,” she said. “Especially when we often talk about taxes, and think of our own lives but forget sometimes about the social need… if you sign this card, to me you’ve made poverty important.”