Here are some of the statistics that jumped out at me..... One thing I noticed that I can relate to is that most of the food bank users were women who were renters. Most of the people are on social assistance which indicates to me that the system doesn't work if people can't even get food with the amount they receive on assistance. The system needs to change. Personally, I don't want to apply for assistance and would rather max out my credit cards than be forced to give up everything I have worked so hard to get over my lifetime.
I find it shocking that so many people in a city like Toronto which is one of the biggest cities in Canada can have so many people that are struggling to get food on their tables. Food, shelter and clothing are basic necessities which everyone should have the right to have....no matter who they are and where they live. That applies to Third World countries and Big Cities. We need to rethink the way we look at poverty and how people end up in poverty. Something needs to change. If you can't eat, you can't live. It's as simple as that. This is what the Occupy movement is fighting for.
Have a look at these Shocking facts from the Food Banks Canada report:
In March 2011, 851,014 people were assisted by food banks in Canada. Food bank use is 26% higher than in 2008, and this fact sends a clear message: the effects of the recession are still being felt across the country. As a result, a near record number of people are unable to afford enough food for themselves and their families.
Fifteen months after the end of the 2008-09 recession, food bank use was essentially unchanged from the same period in 2010. Almost half of food banks actually reported an increase in the number of people they assisted in March 2011, compared to the year before.
During the HungerCount survey period, 4,188 organizations participated in collecting information. Their records show that 93,085 people made the difficult decision to ask for help from a food bank for the first time. Requests for help came, in every province and territory, from a wide range of Canadians: people with jobs, on social assistance, and on pensions; single people and families with children;
renters, homeowners, and the homeless; those whose families have lived here for generations, and new Canadians.
Food Banks Canada, in partnership with provincial associations, food banks, soup kitchens, and other food programs, has collected data on the need for charitable food assistance annually since 1997. This wealth of information allows us to see that food bank use increases and decreases with the health of the economy – for example, the number of people helped by food banks decreased steadily during the economic boom of the mid-2000s, only to shoot up during the recession, and stay elevated in the current year.
The HungerCount survey also shows that while food bank use moves with the economy, there appears to be a stubborn limit to how low the need for assistance can fall. Food banks have been helping more than 700,000 separate individuals each month for the better part of a decade, through good economic times and bad – a fact of life that the majority of Canadians find unacceptable. This report provides a snapshot of the problem, and offers constructive recommendations that will improve the economic health of people assisted by food banks and drastically reduce the need for food assistance.
CHARACTERISTICS OF INDIVIDUALS ASSISTED •
38% of those receiving food were
children and youth under age 18. •
47% were women and girls. •
4.4% were seniors over age 65, rising to 5.7% in rural areas. •
10% self-identified as First Nations, Métis, or Inuit. •
11% were immigrants or refugees –increasing to 18.5% in large cities. •
4% were postsecondary students.
Key national findings
LEVELS OF FOOD BANK USE
• 851,014 separate individuals received food from a food bank in March 2011; while this is down 2% from 2010, it remains 26% higher than in 2008 and is the second highest level of use on record.
• 93,085 people, or 11% of the total, received help from a food bank for the first time during the survey period.
• In rural areas, 114,122 individuals – or 13% of the national total – received food from food banks; 10% of them were being helped for the first time.
• Food banks assisted 2.5% of the Canadian population in March 2011, compared to 2.6% in 2010 and 2.0% in 2008.
• Food bank use in 2011 was 20% higher than in 2001.
2 • FOOD BANKS CANADAE
CHARACTERISTICS OF HOUSEHOLDS HELPED BY FOOD BANKS
The 851,014 individuals who received food in March 2011 were members of 349,842 households:
• 40% of these households were composed of single people living alone.
• 24% were single-parent families with children.
• 23% were dual-parent families with children.
• 12% were couples without children.
Household income came from a variety of sources: • 52% reported social assistance as
their primary source of income. • 18% have earnings from current or
recent employment. • 13% receive disability-related income
supports. • 7% live primarily on pension benefits. • 5% reported having no source of
income. • 2% reported student loans and
scholarships as their major source of income.
HOUSING AND FOOD BANK USE
• The majority of those helped by food banks are renters – 63% pay market rent and 22% live in subsidized housing.
• Nationally, 7% are homeowners – in rural areas, this figure rises to 15%.
• 6% are homeless, i.e., living in an emergency shelter, group home, on the street, or temporarily with family or friends.
• 2% live in band-owned housing, increasing to 5% in rural areas.
Low income, whether in the short or long term, is at the root of the persistent need for charitable food assistance in Canada. Food banks began operating in the early 1980s, near the beginning of a long period of economic transformation that saw major sectors of the Canadian economy – manufacturing, forestry, farming, fishing, mining – recede as sources of jobs and income. Public supports for those in economic difficulty have been scaled back, with both social assistance and Employment Insurance becoming more difficult to get, and providing less to those who are eligible. It has become harder to find and keep a good job, and nearly impossible to afford even basic food, clothing, and adequate shelter, if one is receiving government assistance for any length of time. It is an unfortunate reality that food banks have grown, by necessity, to fill the gap.
Our recommendations focus on the need for governments to provide adequate assistance to individuals and families during times of need, and on how we can better support people to become resilient citizens. They include:
• Increasing federal and provincial support for the construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing, and the creation or expansion of housing subsidies.
• Working with social assistance beneficiaries and other stakeholders to design an income support system of last resort that helps our most vulnerable citizens become self-sufficient.
• Ensuring that Canada’s most vulnerable seniors are not left to live in poverty. •
Improving Employment Insurance to better recognize and support Canadians in non-standard forms of employment,
as well as older workers facing permanent layoff from long-tenure positions.
• Prioritizing, at the federal government level, the need to drastically improve the labour market outcomes of disadvantaged workers.
• Investing in a system of high-quality, affordable, accessible early learning and child care.