CBC Toronto marks the holiday season with their “Sounds of the Season” celebration, held at the CBC Building on Front Street in downtown Toronto in early December. This year, fans began to line up at 2:30 a.m. to snag one of the 320 seats in the Glenn Gould Studio for the live broadcast of Matt Galloway’s top-rated Metro Morning Show, beginning at 5:30. I and my friends arrived at 7:30 and found ourselves standing at the back of an overflow crowd of more than 500 others watching the show on a gigantic screen in the Barbara Frum Atrium.
The Sounds of the Season is always a joyous event. CBC listeners see and talk with their favourite radio personalities. The radio folks who generally work in isolated studios meet their audience. This year, Serena Ryder, Walk Off the Earth, the Toronto Mass Choir and others entertained the crowd during Metro Morning. Commander Chris Hadfield and The Wexford Gleeks headlined the live broadcast of Here and Now in the afternoon. The rest of the day, fans watched an Atrium Show featuring live broadcasts of World Report and CBC News Toronto, music and commentary, and tapings of Big City Small World, Radio 2: Drive and Fresh Air, all in the Glenn Gould Studio. There were complementary muffins, coffee, tea and cocoa. CBC hosts put together a fabulous silent auction which included lavish packages of goodies, Jim Curran’s latest stained glass window, visits behind the scenes with various CBC stars, and a walk-on cameo appearance during the National Ballet’s Nutcracker performance.
The event kicked off the CBC campaign for Food Banks in the Greater Toronto Area. The performers, artists and volunteers at the Sounds of the Season donate their time and talent; the participants on site and the listeners at home, commuting to work, or in their offices join in the giving by their donations. As of last night, $435,731.00 had been raised. Donations can by made by clicking on the Sounds of the Season hyperlink above until the 31st of December.
The Ontario Association of Food Banks. a network of 127 food banks and 1,100 hunger relief programs across the province, was founded in 1992, at the height of the worst economic recession since the “Dirty Thirties”. At the time, these food programs were thought to be a “temporary stopgap” and a “bandaid solution” to widespread hunger, necessary to meet obvious needs while the government put in place appropriate long-term solutions. Twenty-one years later, there has been no solution, and, according to the Hunger Report 2013, the OAFB serves over 375,000 people in Ontario every month, including 131,734 children.
The Hunger Report 2013 recommends sustainable solutions to end the problem of hunger in the province. Their suggestions include: 1) a Food bank donation tax credit for farmers and food producers, 2) a housing benefit for low-income tenants, 3) access to affordable, nutritious food, and 4) a social assistance review. These are issues for the next provincial election.
In the meantime, those on Social Assistance, Ontario Works, or Disability pensions, the unemployed and underemployed, new immigrants, children, students, seniors and a wide gamut of our neighbours depend on food banks to meet their needs each month. It is for them that Sounds of the Season exists. It needs our donations.