Why do we celebrate new food banks?

I just got an email about the opening of a new food bank on the east side of Toronto, my home city. The message is upbeat, the language is celebratory. The organization (which I admire and support) is “pleased” to have joined with leaders in four different communities over the past year to open new facilities. These are “welcome” and “exciting developments.”

I get that non-profits have to be upbeat about their accomplishments, even as they have to emphasize the seriousness of the problems they’re trying to solve.

But this latest message has got me wondering yet again why we continue to greet the expansion of emergency food provisioning as a sign of progress instead of a reflection of the gigantic failure of the modern food system to provide adequately for everyone, which only continues to get worse.

Call me a crazy anthropologist, but I keep envisioning everyone wearing black at the ribbon-cutting ceremonies for these things, and making it an occasion for mourning instead of celebrating. Or better yet, for protesting and demanding more serious engagement with all the problems that lead to the need for this all-too-permanent infrastructure of “emergency” food.

4 months ago

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