Hundreds of thousands of Ontarians forced to turn to food banks



    Food banks press for poverty reduction

    TORONTO, Nov. 8 /CNW/ - A new report released today at Queen's Park by
the Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) revealed that an alarming number
of Ontarians continue to turn to food banks every month. In addition to this
fact, the report provides an in-depth study of the factors affecting food bank
usage and calls the government to take specific actions to reduce hunger.
    "The numbers are staggering," said Sandy Singers, Chair of the OAFB and
Executive Director of the Partners in Mission Food Bank in Kingston. "A
population roughly the size of London, Ontario turns to food banks each month
in our province."
    318,540 Ontarians are served by food banks each month. Since 2001, the
number of Ontarians served by food banks has increased by 14.3 per cent. What
is most striking is who is hit hardest by hunger: nearly 40 per cent are
Ontario's children, 29 per cent are new Canadians, 21 per cent are Ontarians
with disabilities, and 14 per cent are working Ontarians.
    "Tens of thousands of working Ontarians, Ontario's children, Ontarians
living with disabilities, and new Canadians struggle with hunger every day,"
said Adam Spence, Executive Director of the OAFB. "The real picture of hunger
transcends our common notions of age, gender, employment, heritage, and family
type."
    The geography of hunger is also surprising. Despite lower totals in terms
of overall population and number of persons served, many food banks in rural
and northern Ontario face the immense challenge of serving a higher percentage
of their population than their urban counterparts. Some northern and rural
communities serve two to three times the provincial average.
    In today's report, the OAFB is calling on the provincial government to
follow through with conviction on it's commitment to a comprehensive poverty
reduction plan. The OAFB makes the following recommendations for moving
forward:

    
    -   Poverty reduction measures and targets must be in place by the end of
        2008.
    -   The poverty reduction plan must be developed for all low-income
        Ontarians.
    -   The provincial government should commit significant up-front and
        ongoing funding for the poverty reduction plan in its upcoming
        budget.
    -   The comprehensive poverty reduction plan must begin implementation by
        the 2009 provincial budget.
    

    "The provincial government must move forward quickly, but we will not
wait for them to take action," said Singers. "We will find partners, drive the
discussion, and foster direct local action to reduce hunger and poverty."

    The Ontario Hunger Report is a compilation of data collected through the
annual HungerCount survey of the Canadian Association of Food Banks (CAFB),
the annual OAFB member survey, and Statistics Canada datasets. It is available
online at www.endhunger.ca.




For further information:

For further information: Sandy Singers, Chair, OAFB, w: (613) 544-4534,
c: (613) 539-0389; Adam Spence, Executive Director, OAFB, w: (416) 656-4100,
c: (416) 543-0897

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Ontario Association of Food Banks

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