Economic struggles push food bank use higher in 2015

Canada's food banks look to new federal government to implement solutions

OTTAWA, Nov. 17, 2015 /CNW/ - Food bank use has increased for the second consecutive year, and continues to hover at record levels, according to a national study released today by Food Banks Canada.

The HungerCount 2015 report shows that 852,137 people – 305,366 of them children – accessed a food bank in March this year. Food bank use is 1.3% higher than in 2014, and a troubling 26% higher than in 2008, when the economic downturn started. This means that 175,000 more people each month are seeking assistance, compared to 2008.   

"In the short-term, people turn to food banks for diverse reasons – layoffs, a sudden illness, a rent increase that eats into a family's food budget," said Katharine Schmidt, Executive Director of Food Banks Canada, which coordinated the national study involving more than 4,000 food programs. "The underlying issue that has kept food bank use so high for so long is the fact that millions of Canadians are trying to make ends meet with incomes that fall far below what is needed to afford the basic cost of living."

The national increase was strongly influenced by the province of Alberta, where food bank use rose by a shocking 23% in the past year.

The HungerCount 2015 report makes policy recommendations that will increase people's capacity to succeed in the labour market, and that will increase supports for people who are unable to work. These include:

  • Investing in affordable housing;
  • Helping Canadians get the skills they need for the well-paying jobs of today;
  • Increasing northern Canadians' access to traditional and store-bought foods, to address the extremely high levels of food insecurity in the north.

"We are pleased to see that Prime Minister Trudeau has a plan that closely mirrors the recommendations we have made in successive HungerCount reports," continued Schmidt. "This gives us hope and a belief that there will be action at the federal level. We are excited at the prospect of moving forward in a positive and constructive way with the new federal government to significantly reduce the need for food banks in Canada."

For a full copy of the HungerCount 2015 report, visit www.foodbankscanada.ca/hungercount2015 .

To view the video, please visit our https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ekigv3ZmGzo.

About the HungerCount Survey
HungerCount was initiated in 1989, and is the only annual national research study of food banks and other food programs in Canada. Since 1997, data for the study have been collected every March. The information provided by the survey is invaluable, forming the basis of many Food Banks Canada activities throughout the year.  www.foodbankscanada.ca/hungercount. #HungerCount

About Food Banks Canada
Food Banks Canada supports a unique network of food-related organizations in every province and territory, which assists more than 850,000 Canadians each month. Together our network shares over 200 million pounds of essential, safe, quality food annually, provides social programs that help to foster self-sufficiency, and advocates for policy change that will help create a Canada where no one goes hungry. Visit foodbankscanada.ca for more information.

Relieving hunger today. Preventing hunger tomorrow.

For a list of provincial media contacts, please contact Marzena Gersho.

SOURCE Food Banks Canada

Video with caption: "Video: Economic struggles push food bank use higher in 2015". Video available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/cgi-bin/playback.cgi?file=20151116_C3841_VIDEO_EN_546542.mp4&posterurl=http%3a%2f%2fphotos.newswire.ca%2fimages%2f20151116_C3841_PHOTO_EN_546542.jpg&order=1&jdd=20151117&cnum=C3841

Image with caption: "The HungerCount 2015 report shows that 852,137 people - 305,366 of them children - accessed a food bank in March this year. (CNW Group/Food Banks Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20151116_C3841_PHOTO_EN_546507.jpg

PDF available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2015/11/16/20151116_C3841_PDF_EN_546552.pdf

For further information: Media contact: Marzena Gersho, Food Banks Canada, 647-242-5919 (mobile) or (905) 602-5234, ext. 228 (office), marzena@foodbankscanada.ca

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