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Canadian food banks face increasing demand

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Canadian food banks face increasing demand

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TORONTO – A new report released by Food Banks Canada reveals that visits to food banks across the country have increased by 20% since 2019, a level of demand not seen since the 2008 recession.

Released Wednesday, the report is based on a research study involving more than 4,750 food banks and community organizations across the country. Entitled HungerCount 2021, it highlights the growing demand for food bank services across Canada.

Kirstin Beardsley, Director of Network Services at Food Banks Canada, notes that although food bank use was high in Canada before the pandemic, current conditions are creating the “perfect storm” for a growing number of food bank visits. Across the country.

“You have high housing costs, you have high food costs, and now you have pandemic-related job losses and government aid clawback,” she told CTV News Channel Thursday night. . “We are seeing that this has a real effect on the number of people who need our support. “

Although food insecurity exists in communities across Canada, it is also largely influenced by regional factors such as labor markets and the cost of living, explained Beardsley. The report says provinces like Quebec, Alberta and Ontario saw the largest increases in requirements, at 38 percent, 29.6 percent and 23 percent, respectively.

“She is driven by increased job losses,” Beardsley said. “The higher number of urban centers in these provinces has seen astronomical growth. In some cases, food banks have seen their number of customers double since before the pandemic. “

The report also found that one-third of customers are children, despite making up 19 percent of the population, and 1.3 million Canadians visited food banks in March of this year alone.

Among the report’s key policy recommendations is the introduction of a national rent support program to help Canadians struggling to pay their rent or put food on their tables. According to Food Banks Canada, just under 70% of all food bank clients in 2021 live in private rental housing. In addition, the vast majority spend the bulk of their income on rent and utilities, leaving little to cover the cost of food.

“When you have low-income people paying over 50% – and in the lowest income brackets, it’s actually over 70, 80, 90% of their monthly income that is spent on rent – c t is an untenable situation. Said Beardsley.

By providing support to help clients pay their rent, it will leave them with more money to spend on food, Beardsley said.

“Food insecurity in Canada is really a problem of low income and poverty,” she said. “That’s why people go to the food bank. It’s not really about food at all.

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