Low income is at the root of more than three decades of food bank use in Canada. Though the circumstances that send someone through the doors of a food bank are diverse – the loss of a job, family breakup, sudden health problems, barriers related to race, disability, or mental illness, among others – it is the widespread lack of income to cushion hard times that is the key factor making Canadian food banks so necessary, particularly for low income families with children.

Since the 1990s, federal and provincial governments have focused more and more on economic growth, getting more people working, and increasing “workforce flexibility” – in other words, the ability of employers to hire and fire, the ability of workers to perform the jobs that are available, and the likelihood that workers will go where the jobs are. Policy decisions related to this priority have included a decrease in support for people who are unable to work or find a job. For example, it is now more difficult to qualify for Employment Insurance, and social assistance benefits continue to be appallingly low, which contributes to millions of yearly food bank visit by Canadians.

In theory, this makes it more likely that people will work rather than collect public benefits. The reality, however, is that well-paying jobs are out of reach for too many, and this “flexibility” is contributing to poverty, food insecurity, and the need to resort to food banks. The speakers will elaborate on trends the Lethbridge food banks are experiencing and what the future may hold.

Speakers: Kelsey Janzen and Dr. John Usher

A Coaldale native, Kelsey Janzen recently resettled there after completing a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Intercultural Studies at Columbia Bible College in December of 2011, following a nine month internship with a children’s home in Bolivia. She has been a part of the Interfaith team since February of 2012 as the Volunteer Coordinator and Administrative Assistant to the Executive Director and feels blessed to be able to work for a non-profit organization that offers such relevant community services.

John Usher is Professor of Organization Theory and President of the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA). He was Dean of the Faculty of Management from July 2002 until February 2004. Dr. Usher has extensive expertise in the business world as a strategic planning specialist, production supervisor, senior factory accountant and quality control supervisor at General Motors of Canada. Currently, Dr. Usher also serves on the Board of Directors of the Lethbridge Food Bank Society as President.

Moderator: Austin Fennell Date: Thursday, December 19, 2013 Time: Noon - 1:30 PM Location: Country Kitchen Catering (Lower level of The Keg) 1715 Mayor Magrath Dr S
Cost: $11.00 (includes lunch)

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