KAWARTHA LAKES-More Canadians report they are facing hunger and food insecurity due to rising inflation and housing costs, according to newly released data from Food Banks Canada.
Food Banks Canada’s data shows that one-in-five (an estimated 7 million) Canadians now report going hungry — with 23% reporting that they are eating less “than they think they should” because there isn’t enough money for food according to the report.
“This summer will be the toughest Canada’s food banks have ever experienced in our 41 year history,” explains Food Banks Canada’s newly-appointed CEO Kirstin Beardsley, “The majority of food banks in every region of Canada are already stretched to their limits, with demand expected to remain high throughout the summer months as more and more Canadians struggle to cope with rising inflation,” says Beardsley. According to Beardsley, 61% of Canadians now believe that rising housing costs are the biggest barrier that is preventing Canadians from being able to afford food, a sentiment that has doubled in the past year alone.
- 1-in-5 Canadians (7 million people) report going hungry at least once between March 2020 – March 20221
- 1-in-3 Canadians who earn less than 50,000 a year; report instances of not having enough money for food between March 2020 – March 20221
- 43% of Indigenous individuals
- 23% report eating less than they believe they should because there wasn’t enough money for food1
- 40% for those earning under $50,000 a year
- 45% for Indigenous households
- 43% for Black households
- 61% of Canadians see the “cost of housing” to be the largest financial obstacle preventing Canadians from being able to afford food; a number that has almost doubled (46%) in the past year alone
Officials say, typically, food banks across Canada see an easing of demand during the summer months, but according to Beardsley, food bankers on the frontlines are reporting no signs of slow-downs.
“Food banks in most regions of Canada are experiencing an influx of Canadians visiting food banks for the first time — a number that’s increased by up to 25% in some regions, which we haven’t seen since the first few months of the pandemic,” explains Beardsley, adding that food banks are also reporting that they are seeing former food bank clients forced to return, after 5 or more years of not having to rely on food banks to get by.
“The biggest sign that inflation is seriously impacting hunger and food insecurity in Canada, is that the reasons why people say they are coming to food banks is changing,” says Beardsley. “In the past, people would turn to food banks during times of job loss, or due to lower wages — but over the past six months, Canadians are telling us that they are running out of money for food because of rising housing, gas, energy and food costs. That’s an indication that we need to find new longer-term solutions to fight hunger and food insecurity.”
As the umbrella organization for food banks across Ontario, Feed Ontario produces an annual Hunger Report. The report identifies and tracks trends related to food bank use in the province. In 2021 it revealed that the cost of food is certainly putting pressure on household budgets. That is resulting in more pressure on food banks to fill the gap.
Between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021, Ontario food banks helped 592,000 individuals. This is an increase of 10% over the previous period and the largest single-year increase since 2009. Additionally, over the last 4 years, the proportion of employed adults accessing a food bank has grown by 44%. 2 out of 3 food bank visitors who responded to a recent survey reported that they have less than $100 left after paying for housing and utilities each month according to the report.
With those on social assistance receiving $1,422 less income than needed to simply reach the poverty line each month it isn’t surprising then, that so many recipients must turn to food banks to make ends meet. Social assistance has remained unchanged, despite a 12% increase in the cost of living, since 2018 according to Feed Ontario. Ontario Works (OW) still provides only $733 per month and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) provides $1,169 monthly, making social assistance incomes a major driver of food bank use. For the full Hunger Report click here:https://feedontario.ca/story/maybe-inflation-isnt-the-big-problem/?fbclid=IwAR3_WBAZOtv5TdFgqDYvV94uyWbQn1obFJrK5qndfY-oVhUxwqGuwpLRQ3M
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