By the Numbers: Food bank use rising in Canada’s major cities
Toronto – November 29, 2018 – Food banks were established over 30 years ago as a short-term solution to addressing hunger in Canada. Three decades later, hundreds of thousands of families turn to food banks each month as a means of putting food on the table, according to Food Banks Canada. As well, food bank use is on the rise in major cities across the country. Below is a statistical breakdown of food banks and hunger in Canada.
- Over 863,000 Canadians use a food bank each month, up 28% since 2008.
- 1 in 6 people assisted by food banks are gainfully employed.
- Among households that use food banks, 1 in 4 pay more than they can afford for housing.
From coast to coast, food bank use is rising in Canada’s major cities. For example:
- In Greater Vancouver, there has been a 12.5% increase in average weekly visitors to food banks.
- In Edmonton, the number of people requiring food bank hampers has increased by 50.6% since 2015.
- In Calgary, over 180,000 individuals and families used food banks last year, compared to just under 130,000 residents in 2012-2013.
- In Winnipeg, total food bank clients by appointment rose to 471,518 last year, up from 463,603 the previous year.
- In Ottawa, food bank use has increased by 5.6% since 2016.
- Food bank visits in Toronto, meanwhile, have risen by 14 percent over the last ten years.
- Provincially, food assistance organizations across Quebec have seen a 33.7 % increase in requests since 2008, while in Nova Scotia, 41,000 individuals received support from a food bank last year, up from 23,840 the year before.
The rise in food bank use can largely be attributed to the fact that 13 percent of Canadians currently live in a state of food insecurity, which means they lack reliable access to adequate amounts of safe, high quality, and nutritious food. The root cause of hunger in Canada is low income, which consistently affects more than four million of us at any given time.
As the food worker’s union, UFCW Canada believes the best way to fight food insecurity is to ensure that all workers – including agricultural workers – have the right to join a union and the ability to negotiate higher wages and living standards. We also believe the federal government should establish a strong National Food Policy that promotes food security and ensures Canadians have access to high quality, protein rich, safe food. To learn more about UFCW Canada’s advocacy on food security and other food justice issues, click here.
Sources: “Hunger in Canada,” Food Banks Canada; 2018 Beyond Food Revisited, Edmonton’s Food Bank; Who's Hungry Report, Daily Bread Food Bank; Ottawa Hunger Report 2017, Ottawa Food Bank; 2017 & 2018 Reports to the Community, Feed Nova Scotia; 2017 & 2016 Hunger Counts, Moisson Montreal; 2016-2017 & 2015-2016 Annual Reports, Winnipeg Harvest; 2018 Community Report, Greater Vancouver Food Bank; Hunger in Quebec, Food Banks of Quebec; 2017-2018 & 2012-2013 Annual Reports, Calgary Food Bank.