Annual Food Report issued – one third of Food Bank users are kids

November 29, 2017 by

canned-foodAs annual food drives continue across our listening area, here is some information to consider.

The Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) recently released its 2017 Hunger Report which reveals that 499,415 individuals – one third of them children – turned to a food bank last year alone. The report also found that over 90 per cent of food bank clients are rental or social housing tenants who are spending more than 70 per cent of their income on housing. The 2017 Hunger Report highlights the federal government’s recently announced housing strategy and how the OAFB hopes it will affect those accessing food banks over the next ten years.

According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, for housing to be considered affordable it should require no more than 30 per cent of a household’s before-tax income. Food bank clients, however, spend on average more than 70 per cent of their income on rent or housing, leaving very little for other necessities like heat, hydro, transportation, medicine, and food.

“Provincially, more than 45 per cent of food bank clients – or 224,736 people – have less than $100 left each month after paying basic expenses,” says Carolyn Stewart, Executive Director of the Ontario Association of Food Banks. “This leaves them with just over $3 per day for all other needs. With this in mind, it is no wonder that almost half a million adults, children, and seniors are turning to food banks each year.”

The report shows that while the need for affordable housing is currently affecting many Ontarians, individuals that work for minimum or low wages, live with a disability, or receive social assistance experience this need the most severely. The 2017 Hunger Report revealed that in eight out of 10 sample communities across the province, the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment would require more than 100 per cent of the income received by an individual on Ontario Works.

The 2017 Hunger Report recognizes the federal government’s recently announced housing strategy, which includes investments in affordable housing and a new housing benefit for low-income Canadians. Provincially, the Ontario Association of Food Banks is calling for the Government of Ontario to implement policies that address the root causes of hunger, as detailed in the recently released “Income Security: A Roadmap for Change” report. The recommendations in this report include large increases to social assistance rates, transforming the system to ensure that it is less punitive, and the implementation of an Ontario Housing Benefit.

“An immediate investment into improved social assistance rates will go a long way in helping to ensure that families, adults, and seniors are able to afford housing, food, and basic expenses today,” says Stewart. “In the meantime, however, food banks will continue to provide a wide range of programs to help those in need.”

The 2017 Hunger Report highlights the role that food banks play in addition to emergency food support. Food banks provide a myriad of programs and services for low-income individuals and families, such as child care, resume writing workshops, training and apprenticeship programs, and health clinics.

2017 Hunger Report Highlights and Trends

  • Hunger by the Numbers
    • 499,415 people accessed food banks in Ontario between April 1st, 2016 and March 1st, 2017, with 33 per cent (or 166,703) being children
    • 50 per cent of food bank clients visited three times or less over the course of a year
    • 50 per cent of households served by food banks identified as single person households
  •  Affordable Housing and Insufficient Social Assistance Rates
    • 90 per cent of food bank clients are either rental or social housing tenants
    • 68 per cent of clients cite social or income assistance as their primary source of income
    • Ontario Works provides individuals with $721 per month, Ontario Disability Support Program provides $1,151 per month. In a sample of ten cities, the average one-bedroom apartment would require between 70 to over 100 per cent of this monthly income.
    • 45 per cent of food bank clients (224,736) have less than $100 left each month after basic expenses have been paid
    • 171,000 households are currently on Ontario’s affordable housing wait list, with 32 per cent being seniors. The wait time is approximately four years.
    • The Ontario Association of Food Banks recommends an immediate increase to Ontario’s current social assistance programs alongside investments in affordable housing
  • How Food Banks Help Beyond Food
    • Food banks offer fresh, healthy food and a diverse range of programs, depending on the community. In Ontario, these programs include rental and housing supplements, emergency payments in the event of an eviction notice, budgeting support, child care, resume writing workshops, training and apprenticeship programs, and health clinics.

To download a full copy of the 2017 Hunger Report, or to find out more about food banks in Ontario and how you can provide support, visit: www.oafb.ca/hunger-report.

The Hinton Auto Group Build a Mountain of Food campaign continues this weekend with stops in Westport and Elgin.

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