Who’s Hungry Report Shows Rise in Food Bank Usage

Posted on September 30, 2014 in Social Security Debates

CWP-CSP.ca – Canada Without Poverty/News

Last Thursday, Daily Bread Food Bank released their report on trends in food bank dependence in the past year in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). This report had some startling statistics, including finding that from April 2013 to March 2014 there were 1,040,400 food bank visits across the GTA. This is the sixth year in a row that those numbers have surpassed one million.

In the report, food bank volunteers from hundreds of food banks across the GTA interviewed thousands of food bank users to track trends and hear about their real life experiences of hunger. The report highlights stories of client experiences, such as having severe health problems and surviving only on crackers and clients giving up money for food for things like meetings with their social assistance workers.

The report points out that “food bank use still remains inexcusably high, at nine per cent more visits than before the 2008 recession, suggesting that six years later we have yet to experience a full recovery”. In addition, certain groups are having to rely more heavily on food banks. Here are some startling findings from the report:

– There has been an increase in food bank reliance for people with disabilities or serious illnesses

– In suburban areas of the GTA, there has been an increase in newcomers, including newcomers with children, who have to rely on food banks

– There has been an increase in single individuals who rely on GTA food banks

The severity of food insecurity in the GTA was isolated in the report, as according to Daily Bread Food Bank “[f]orty-one per cent of adults who are food bank clients go hungry at least once per week. Despite their parents’ best efforts, 16 per cent of children who are food bank clients go hungry at least once per week”. Although food banks provide needed services to many people, they were implemented in 1981 as a temporary measure to address food insecurity and were never intended to be the only stopgap before people in Canada go hungry.

The GTA is not the only area in Canada that has a problem with food insecurity. In fact, across Canada, one in eight households struggle to put food on their tables. According to Food Banks Canada, in March 2014, 833,098 people relied on Food Banks across Canada. One in five of the people who rely on food banks in Canada are children.

But the most concerning thing about food insecurity in both Toronto and across Canada is that despite these startling numbers, Canada still has no federal anti-poverty plan. This means that there is NO plan for how we will address the causes of hunger in Canada.

On October 17th, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, people passionate about ending poverty are joining together to call for a federal poverty plan in the Chew On This Campaign. To join the call for a plan to end hunger and food insecurity all across Canada you can sign on to the campaign at www.ChewOnThis.ca.

To read the full Who’s Hungry Report, visit this link:  < http://www.dailybread.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Reason-for-COming.jpg >

< http://www.cwp-csp.ca/2014/09/whos-hungry-report-shows-rise-in-food-bank-usage/ >

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3 Responses to “Who’s Hungry Report Shows Rise in Food Bank Usage”

  1. The correlation between food insecurity and poverty in Canada is a precise calculation for which our government is solely to blame. Food banks were never intended to be a permanent solution to hunger yet the Canadian government has taken this concept and has made it an essential part of Canada’s economic infrastructure. There are over two million Canadians that earning minimum wage and/or relying on government subsidies. The rising cost of food and the lack of financial resources, this it difficult for these Canadians to purchase food; they do not have a choice but must rely on food banks. Sadly these citizens are often forced to make difficult decisions between paying rent and eating.
    It is unfortunate that a country as prosperous as Canada does not have a safety net place to assist citizens with food insecurity. In 1996, Canada joined the world food summit in Action Plan for Food Security with the goal of reducing the number of hungry citizens by half and increasing food security by 2015. Additionally, in 2010, Bill 545 was passed. This bill gave the responsibility of eliminating poverty to the federal government as this concern became more of a human rights issue. Unfortunately, the government has given the responsibility of hunger issues to charities and the volunteer sector.
    Presently, Canada’s political framework has no national food policy or strategy in place to deal with this ongoing urgent issue. Canada’s government does not appear to be making changes to assist low income families or the working poor. Canada deserves a government that is more hands on; one that will not ignore food and poverty issues. The government also needs to implement and modify policies regarding social welfare, social programming and minimum wage in order to help alleviate hunger and poverty among those at the bottom of our socioeconomic ladder. Prioritizing these issues will decrease the number of individuals, children and families accessing food banks, raise the level of food security and improve the well-being of lives of Canada’s people.
    Kerren Klekner
    Bachelor of Social Work Student
    Laurentian University

  2. Poverty has consistently been linked with decreased mental and physical health, lower education, less community engagement, and many other disadvantages, yet it stubbornly persists. In a prosperous and democratic nation like Canada, children, single parents, and people with disabilities, among others, should not have to endure the hunger, stigma, health detriments, social exclusion, and a host of other baggage associated with being poor. There is more than enough wealth to go around to eliminate dependence on food banks and homeless shelters. However, the few overprivileged, overly influential, and overpaid tenaciously hoard their influence and wealth, while the rest of us almost futilely fight to eliminate poverty or just sit on the sidelines voiceless. It is unsurprising that the main consumers of food bank services are people with disabilities and those who have lost jobs, among other marginalised populations, people who are unfairly treated with indignity.

    Though it is inspiring to see the role community agencies like food banks play in reaching out and helping to support people on the fringes of society, Liberal policymakers need to do more than proclaim a mission to end poverty and citizens need to do more than timidly accept the provincial government’s “progress”. I have seen first hand the limited resources a food bank has to give people adequate and healthful nourishment. Does anyone remember the Guaranteed Annual Income experiments? What happened to them? Where is the federal government’s leadership in eliminating hunger and poverty and proving to the world what a great humanitarian nation Canada is? Though wealthy and seemingly progressive, our country shamefully lacks a federal anti-poverty plan. It is time to truly give people equal opportunity and level the playing field, to thoroughly invest in the well-being of all Canadians. Even though the Liberal government of Ontario is claiming to take more responsibility for reducing and eventually eliminating homelessness, of which poverty is a part, its target date is nonexistent. If people had universal income security to rise above and not fear falling into poverty, they would have a far greater ability to fulfil the determinants of health. Furthermore, the benefits of a minimum national income to the healthcare and social welfare system, labour market, and entire nation could be extremely positive: healthier, happier, and better educated people being more employable, less sick, and more focused on personal, professional, and community development. There is no question that our governments’ reactive responses to social welfare beg for reform. In the meantime, people starving for change go hungry.

  3. How can Canada pride itself on being rich with prosperity and opportunity when it keeps the poor where they want them to be?
    Single individuals who receive social assistance receives approximately $7,500 a year and a single parent with one child receives approximately $17,461.80 a year. These numbers are calculated to offer only basic needs. There is no actual poverty line in Canada, but the Low income cut off for one person is $19, 930, a difference of $12 478.00 for a single individual (Poverty Free Ontario, 2014).
    How are these individuals expected to prosper when their main concern is to survive? The people of Canada need affordable health care, education, and housing. The provincial child tax and supplement benefits offered to parents are a start, but it doesn’t offer families better childcare, jobs, or future plans. What are the benefits if you are a single person? The only option is social assistance, food banks and jobs with no benefits.
    Poverty in Canada affects all citizens and the federal government still has no tactics on how to stop it. I believe that the government intends to keep the poor where they are considering there has only been a 0.2% improvement on the poverty rate since from 2008 to 2011. The Federal government strives for an economy that is independent, free market and to provide the minimum for the people.
    The people of Canada need to reach out to one another and lend a helping hand. We need to vote for a party that believes in believes in equal access to health care and education. We need to vote for a government that wants the best for the public. Who provide partnership and collaboration between citizen and government.


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