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.
Image From Who’s Hungry report here