Ontario Association of Food Banks executive director Bill Laidlaw was in the city Wednesday for a round-table discussion at Our Kids Count.
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The community needs to step up when it comes to filling the shelves of local food banks, said the executive director of the Ontario Association of Food Banks.
Bill Laidlaw was in Thunder Bay Wednesday to visit the Regional Food Distribution Association and conduct a round-table discussion with people who use the food banks.
The focus of the discussion is to understand the needs of the city and how the OAFB can better serve the community and also to look at issues surrounding poverty in Thunder Bay.
One of the biggest challenges in stocking food for the RFDA is its geography. Transportation costs are expensive.
"I think in the more northern communities it's difficult to get food and it's difficult to get the type of food they want and to get nutritious foods," Laidlaw said.
When the RFDA is in dire straits, the OAFB will send trucks with food to Northwestern Ontario, but that is just treating a symptom of the problem, Laidlaw said.
The problem lies within poverty in the community.
In Ontario, 420,000 people use food banks; 165,000 of those are children and that number is rising, said Laidlaw.
"The image of a food bank in some people's minds maybe isn't a positive one. The people who use food banks are not just the homeless. They're seniors. They're children," he said.
"It could be you or I ... It's not too far to think we might have to use a food bank."
The best source of food can be the local community and Laidlaw said the community has to look after itself.
"People have to step up," he said. "People who live in Thunder Bay have to really recognize they have to provide food banks with food, not just in the holiday season, but throughout the year."
RFDA executive director Volker Kromm said having Laidlaw here is important in making sure the rest of the province understands the unique challenges a northern city like Thunder Bay faces.
"It is a competitive world. We have to make sure our voice is known and some of our unique concerns are addressed," he said.
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