DAWN Ontario: DisAbled Women's Network Ontario

Food Banks Struggle with Growing Hunger



The number of Ontario residents using food banks continues to grow, increasing by 4.5% last year, according to HungerCount, the annual survey of Canada’s food banks. Since the first survey was published in 1989, the number of Canadians using food banks has more than doubled. The report, released annually on World Food Day, notes that the number of people visiting food banks each month now exceeds the total population of New Brunswick.

As a group, children continue to suffer disproportionately from hunger – 26% of the population is under 18, but they account for 39% of food bank clients. Ontario has the dubious distinction of having the country’s highest rate of food bank use among children.

While the number of new food banks and other emergency food programs continues to climb, it is impossible for most to keep pace with community demand. A variety of strategies are used to ration scarce supplies. Most food banks (74%) limit visits to once or twice a month, and average amount of food provided is enough for 4 days.

The survey also asked food banks to identify public policy initiatives that would most effectively alleviate hunger. Raising social assistance benefits topped the list (29%), followed by increasing the minimum wage (21%), and more affordable rental housing (13%). The report observes that social assistance rates and minimum wages in all provinces and territories now fall below the Statistics Canada “low-income cut-off’ level. It also cites recent poll results that found 90% of Canadians believe governments are responsible for solving the problem of hunger.

To obtain a copy of HungerCount 2003 please visit:
http://www.cafb-acba.ca/pdfs/other_documents/HC2003_ENG.pdf (PDF format - requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Source: United Ways of Ontario's Government Relations Bulletin - Issue dd Nov. 7, 2003

* New Government, New Ministries, and New Committees
* McGuinty Moves Swiftly to Tackle Deficit
* Food Banks Struggle with Growing Hunger
* Study Cites Factors Driving Dramatic increase in Children’s Aid Cases
* Ontario to End Hydro Rate Freeze
* Commission Seeks Removal of Barriers for Disabled Students
* B.C.’s Two-Year Welfare Cut-off Challenged



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Page last updated Nov. 7, 2003