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Each year North York Harvest Food Bank teams up with the Daily Bread Food Bank to release the annual “Who’s Hungry” report. It is a snapshot of food bank use in Toronto.
Surveys were conducted on a completely voluntary basis within participating food banks. 33 food banks participated and over 1400 surveys were used to create the report.
This report always releases staggering numbers and highlights the problem with food insecurity in our local community and the affect it has on our neighbours in Toronto.
Food Bank use in the Inner Suburbs has grown 68% since 2010
We have been seeing a major increase in visits to the North York Harvest Food Bank. Residents may be forced to leave the city core to find more affordable rent. Though being able to afford both rent and food is still out of reach for many.
The growth in the east end has increased dramatically. Food bank use in this area of the city has increased 30% compared to 4% or less in other parts of the city. Many of the residents there are newcomers, having fled due to international conflict or natural disasters – most paying around 82% of their income on rent alone.
“I HAVE COPED BY NOT EATING WELL OR SOMETIMES I DON’T EAT. ACTUALLY I DON’T EAT ABOUT ONCE A WEEK BECAUSE THERE ARE EXPENSES FOR MY ILLNESSES.” ~ SURVEY RESPONDENT
Social Assistance just isn’t enough anymore
The lack of sufficient income brings many people to food banks. The average monthly income for clients is just $816.50. For a city like Toronto that will not even pay for rent on a one bedroom apartment.
34% of adults have gone hungry at least once every week because they spend all of their income on rent and utilities leaving them struggling to pay for other items such as food, clothing and transit. Sacrificing food can lead to poor mental and physical health.
“I AM DEPRESSED, HAVE GAINED 50 POUNDS. I HAVE LOST FRIENDS AS I CANNOT AFFORD TO SOCIALIZE OR HAVE TTC FUNDS TO GO TO THEIR HOMES.” ~ SURVEY RESPONDENT
Usage of food banks by seniors has skyrocketed
Within just a year, food bank usage of people ages 65 and up has increased by 26.8%! It is also quite possible there is a higher need among seniors but many may not be able to attend the food bank due to barriers such as transportation or lack of physical ability.
22% of seniors have skipped meals for an entire day because they couldn’t afford to eat – for many of them, it happened almost every month. Many report using their small amounts of money on prescription medications. Lack of food can worsen any pre-existing health problems seniors may have.
Another reason that seniors are accessing the food bank more than ever is that many aren’t getting a boost to their income through the Guaranteed Income Supplement they may be entitled to receiving. The reason many are not receiving this benefit could be sheer lack of awareness, the difficulty in applying do to lack of technical support or language barriers.