Too many Canadians are struggling just to put food on the table, and food bank use continues to hover at record levels according to HungerCount 2013, a national study released today by Food Banks Canada.
The report highlights that in a typical month, food banks in Canada now provide food to more than three quarters of a million separate individuals - 833,000 people - and nearly four in 10 of those helped are children.
"Far too many people are looking into an empty fridge and wondering how they're going to feed themselves and their kids," said Katharine Schmidt, Executive Director of Food Banks Canada, which coordinated the national study involving more than 4,000 food programs.
The HungerCount 2013 study found that:
- Each month, 80,000 Canadians are forced to ask for help from a food bank for the first time.
- Nearly 40,000 of those helped each month are seniors with incomes too meagre to afford enough food.
- one in six households assisted by food banks have employment income, yet still can't make ends meet.
"The inability to obtain enough food, when it is abundant all around us, is physically and psychologically scarring," continued Schmidt. "It is simply unacceptable in a nation as prosperous as Canada. We are calling on the federal and provincial governments to make real investments in policies that will reduce the need for food banks."
The HungerCount 2013 report provides policy recommendations that can make significant progress in reducing the number of people who need help from food banks. Recommendations include:
- Increase access to affordable housing, so that Canadians are not forced to choose between paying rent or buying food.
- Increase investment in education and training for Canadians at risk of failing in the job market, so that people can become self-sufficient through employment.
- Invest in local food solutions in the North, to help Northern Canadians build the capacity to feed themselves.
- Revolutionize social assistance, so people can build self-sufficiency instead of being trapped in poverty.
For a full copy of the HungerCount 2013 report, visit http://foodbankscanada.ca/FoodBanks/MediaLibrary/HungerCount/HungerCount2013.pdf.
A total of 22,465 people were helped by food banks in March, and increase of 26.6 per cent since 2008. Children comprised 43.8 per cent of those receiving food bank help.
The actual total of individuals assisted by food banks in March dropped from 24,621 in 2012 to 22,465 in 2013, however this total is up significantly from the 16,792 recorded in 2003. Saskatchewan's highest food bank total was 25,432 in March 2011.
Of people receiving support 57.2 per cent were aboriginal, 54.4 per cent were women, and 8.4 per cent were immigrants or refugees.
Single people comprised 44.1 per cent of those receiving food bank supported, followed single-parent families (26.0 per cent), two-parent families (19.4 per cent), and couples with no children (10.5 per cent).