Many visitors to Halifax don’t bother to hop across the harbour to Dartmouth (the “poor sister” to Halifax). Fewer still wander up the hill from the ferry terminal in Dartmouth to a lovely, wooden heritage building.
The sign outside reads “Margaret’s House”. Inside, business is booming – which is bad news for the staff and many volunteers at Margaret’s House, and even worse news for the surrounding neighbourhood.
Margaret’s House is a soup kitchen that serves nutritious, and often local, meals to people who are too poor to be able to buy their own food. Many churches in the area offer help. For years, the first day of the week has been known as “Meatloaf Monday” in honour of a local church that loyally supports Margaret’s House.
A few years ago, Margaret’s House was serving about 2,000 meals per month.
Now, the numbers are often above 3,000 per month.
Growing hunger is part of the reality not just for Dartmouth and Halifax, but also Atlantic Canada, and central Canada, and the Prairies, and western Canada, and even the north.
Critically low incomes (both in the labour market and for those forced to rely on income assistance programs) guarantee that Margaret’s House and the many other emergency food programs across the country will continue to do a booming business.
The hunger problem in Canada is not a shortage of good quality food that is relatively affordable. Our markets and shops are full of great produce.
The problem is growing poverty – which has increased even during the economic boom of the last decade.
The people who rely on Margaret’s House are grateful that they have a place to go for a good meal. The staff and volunteers have made the little house into a wonderful home – a kind of extended living room.
Wouldn’t it be great, however, if we could put Margaret’s House out of business. Banish hunger and want from Dartmouth, and from Canada. And re-engage the wonderful volunteers in dozens of other community-building exercises from coast to coast to coast.
– Michael Shapcott