A collection of “ragtag, cowboy” groups are gathering to figure out how to keep London’s hardest-to-help homeless people alive through the winter.

If they can figure out something, they might get financial help from city hall. But the challenge is a big one.

“It’s like, here’s the hardest problem, can you ragtag team of cowboys who have been trying to relieve the suffering of people come together with something?” Sarah Campbell, executive director of Ark Aid Street Mission, said.

The group wants to find a quick and short-term solution to feed and shelter what advocates say is a growing number of people who can’t or won’t find traditional shelter space this winter.

Build affordable housing and give those that need it mental health supports. Call me crazy, but why not take over the Westcourt building and create a safe liveable space for those that don’t have it.

If not there, then why not somewhere else?

I believe the amount of municipal revenue generated in the long run from diversification of commercial entities and intensification of population in the downtown core would dwarf the cost associated with fixing homelessness.

A lack of food drives at local schools and businesses is leading to empty shelves, says the Guelph Food Bank.

The stock of food on the shelves is currently about a third of what it would usually be at this time of year, which typically sees the agency through until Christmas, said Pauline Cripps, administrator at Guelph Food Bank.

“Our food level stock is low right now, which is alarming for us,” said Cripps. “Food drives have not been going the way they normally would because of the pandemic, so while we are still receiving monetary donations we are not receiving as many non-perishable donations.”

Newmarket residents continue to face food insecurity issues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a plan is needed to ensure they don’t go hungry this winter, an advocate for the vulnerable and homeless community is urging the town.

“We would like the Town of Newmarket to work with the coalition partners of the Newmarket Supper Program to devise a plan for food security in Newmarket. This should be the first priority under the heading of community support,” Ross Carson, chairman of Concerned Citizens for the Homeless in Newmarket, told council on Oct. 26.

Demand for meals programs has soared, Carson said, referring as an example to the Tuesday lunch program at Trinity United Church, which typically served 30 meals prior to the pandemic, and now provides 60 meals.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is calling on the federal government to create its own basic income pilot project to replace the one that was prematurely cancelled by Doug Ford’s provincial government in 2018.

The national chamber adopted the resolution, which was put forward by the Hamilton and Thunder Bay Chambers of Commerce, at its annual general meeting this week.

It calls on the federal government to create a basic income pilot project and “assess the potential costs, benefits, pitfalls, challenges and outcomes of a nationwide basic income social assistance program.”

In a recent piece on the current state of food banks, Paul Taylor remarked, “We demand gratitude for what we’ve given.”

In a country where food has been recognized as a human right by the state (see the Universal Declaration on Human Rights), emergency access to food should not feel like a handout. People should not feel a sense of obligation to the person or institution who provided that food.

These historic notions of generosity and servitude are pervasive today, lingering still in the ways that we position emergency access to food as an act of charity. As long as we talk about food in the context of charity, we continue to rid the state of its responsibility to deliver on the right to food.

Remote Indigenous communities face a problem as the changing climate makes it more difficult to access traditional sources of food.

That issue, which is detailed in a new report by advocacy group Human Rights Watch, is exacerbated by the fact that many communities have a lack of alternatives that are both affordable and nutritious.

“It’s difficult for our people to access healthy foods,” Vern Cheechoo said Wednesday at a press conference that coincided with the report’s release.