Research shows food bank clients spend 77% of income on rent

    TORONTO, June 24 /CNW/ - People accessing food banks are unable to get
ahead because of the high cost of housing, according to a report released
today by Daily Bread Food Bank. Who's Hungry: 2008 Profile of Hunger in the
GTA found that food bank clients pays an average of 77% of their income on
housing alone, which crowds out money available for other basic necessities
such as food.
    The report also found that total food bank use for the year April 2007 to
March 2008 was 952,883 or an average of nearly 80,000 people per month, an
increase of 5% over the same period last year. This year's increase is
attributed primarily to the opening of two new food banks and reflects Daily
Bread's increased capacity to meet the existing need as opposed to an increase
in need. This is the eighth consecutive year of increased food bank use. The
report also notes a substantial increase in single adults accessing food banks
over the past five years. One positive noted in the report is the declining
proportion of children accessing food banks (34% in 2008 versus 37% in 2003)
along with a decline in child hunger: 13% of children went hungry at least one
day a week this year compared to 27% in 2003.
    "Safe, affordable housing is fundamental for all families and an
important prerequisite for people to improve their lives," says Gail Nyberg,
executive director of Daily Bread Food Bank. "When someone pays almost all
their income toward rent, there is virtually nothing left to pay for other
basic expenses, such as food, clothes for the children and transportation.
When peoples' day to day reality is about trying to find their next meal,
things like improving education and skills and finding a job are next to
impossible. Addressing the need for affordable housing should be a primary
concern for the Ontario government as it develops a poverty reduction
    "I pay $450 per month in rent out of my total income of $560 per month,"
says Charles Jergl a food bank client and self advocate. "After rent, I barely
have any money left for food. It's hard to even pay for a phone. How are you
supposed to get a job when you can't even pay for a phone?"
    The report provides statistical profiles of five populations who reflect
the primary clients of food banks in the GTA: people with disabilities, people
experiencing persistent poverty, single parents, immigrants, and the working
poor. Of note for each group:

    -  People with disabilities on average use food banks 3 times longer than
       the rest of the food bank population (24 months versus eight). Food
       deprivation is highest amongst those with disabilities: 50% had not
       eaten for a whole day in the past 12 months compared to 38% for the
       rest of the food bank population.
    -  People experiencing persistent poverty (defined as more than two years
       of food bank use) were nearly twice as likely to have a disability
       than the rest of the food bank population.
    -  Stress levels were highest amongst single parents, and lack of access
       to child care was cited by 44% of single parents as preventing them
       from taking a job.
    -  New immigrants have the highest education levels of all people
       accessing food banks: 37% have post-secondary education compared to
       16% for the rest of food bank clients. Thirty-nine per cent of
       immigrants have been in Canada for four years or less.
    -  The average wage for those working was $10.36 per hour, challenging
       the prevailing belief that increasing the minimum wage (now
       $8.75/hour) would substantially reduce poverty. The majority of those
       working could only get part-time hours. Only one in five of those
       working had prescription drug and dental benefits.

    "This report is timely because Ontario is currently consulting with the
public to develop a poverty reduction strategy," says Michael Oliphant,
director of research and communications at Daily Bread. "It points to the need
for Ontario to develop a poverty reduction strategy that is both broad and
targeted. Broad in that it must address issues common to all people
experiencing poverty, such as housing. But the strategy must also be targeted
toward specific issues of each of the five populations identified. This means
improved access to disability benefits, child care, job training and support,
recognition of foreign credentials for new immigrants, and community
participation opportunities for those who have disabilities or are unable to
    Who's Hungry 2008 is based on data collected from Daily Bread's Annual
Survey of People Accessing Emergency Food Banks. A total of 1,775 face-to-face
interviews were conducted by over 250 trained volunteers between February and
March 2008 in 55 different food banks across the GTA. Who's Hungry reflects
Daily Bread's commitment to addressing the root causes of hunger and poverty
and this is the fourth year that the report has been released. Research is an
important component of Daily Bread Food Bank's fight to end hunger in our

For further information:

For further information: Gabrielle Chackal, Communications & Marketing
Officer, T: (416) 203-0050 ext. 238, C: (416) 450-2196, E:

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