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Letter to Susan Marjetti, Senior Managing Director, Ontario Region, CBC Radio

This posting is courtesy of Put Food In The Budget

We are dismayed by the misleading promotion from the CBC Toronto that the donations to food banks from this coming Friday’s Sounds of the Season program will ‘feed the city’. If you share our concern you can click here to send a letter to Susan Marjetti, Senior Managing Director, Ontario Region, CBC Radio.

The research in our Discussion Paper – We Need to Talk. Who banks on food banks? shows that the $600,000 raised by the CBC Sounds of the Season program in 2013 provided on average a one-time contribution of 2.76 pounds of food to those visiting Daily Bread member food agencies. 

It is inaccurate for the Sounds of the Season program to suggest that these food donations will meet the needs of people who are poor – or that these donations will ‘feed the city’.

Charity is a worthy and individual act of compassion. It is completely inadequate however to address the systemic factors that cause poverty.

  • We believe that focusing on public donations of food and money to food banks in one big seasonal event gives the false impression that little more needs to be done.
  • We are concerned that Sounds of the Season creates the false the impression that poor people will receive enough food from food banks.
  • We are concerned that focusing on charitable giving during the holiday season provides ‘feel good’ relief that allows people to enjoy their holidays without feeling additional responsibility for the impoverishment experienced by a large part of the population.
  • We believe that defining ‘hunger’ as the problem, and charity as the solution, creates low expectations of how CBC listeners can act to end poverty. A charitable donation to food banks to prevent people from starving is not an adequate response to poverty. We fear that more effective public action – acting in solidarity with people who are poor – is discouraged by an event that directly and indirectly communicates that ‘charity is enough’.

We believe the voices of people who use food banks, and the voices of people who volunteer at food banks and emergency meal programs, have not been adequately represented in past broadcasts.

If you share our view than we ask that you send this letter to Susan Marjetti, Managing Director of CBC Ontario Region now. (click here)

Background: We wrote to CBC Radio Toronto on September 16 to request that the Sounds of the Season program this year increase its emphasis on the following messages:

  • Poverty is the problem, not hunger.
  • Addressing the systemic roots of poverty is the only way to ensure that people who are poor will have enough food.
  •  Food banks and emergency meal programs do not, and never will, meet the basic needs of people in our communities with low incomes.

On October 6, Susan Marjetti responded to our concerns saying (in summary) “We are confident that our continued association with food banks for CBC fundraisers across Ontario allows us the greatest potential to make a difference in both the immediate need to put food on the table for the 375,000 Ontarians who rely on food banks each month  and address the issue of poverty in our community”.

On October 15 we wrote back to say “We continue to be concerned that the Sounds of the Season program primarily emphasizes ending hunger, and fails to raise awareness about the policies, legislation and collective public advocacy that is required to end poverty.

We simply want the Sounds of the Season program to encourage a more balanced discussion of the limits of charity as a strategy to end systemic poverty in Ontario.

Steering Committee
Put Food in the Budget campaign.


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