More than 800,000 Canadians now depend on food banks | National Union of Public and General Employees

More than 800,000 Canadians now depend on food banks

Survey of food banks and emergency food programs


Ottawa (10 Feb. 2006) - A national survey carried out every year since 1989 by the Canadian Association of Food Banks (CAFB), has found that more than 800,000 people, including more than 325,000 children, depended on food banks to survive during 2005.

The group counts the number of people who seek assistance at food banks during a one-month period each year.

The numbers show that usage of food banks has dropped less than 1% since 2004. Those using food banks include many people who are employed but cannot make ends meet, as well as those living on government assistance.


"The steady erosion of income security benefits in Canada over the past ten years has been a significant factor in continued food insecurity in Canada, particularly among low-income households," the group says.

"A comprehensive set of policy measures – including living wages, adequate employment insurance and social assistance programs and more affordable housing and child care – along with concrete measurable objectives, are essential to improving the income security of low-income Canadians and consequently, in helping to reduce the need for food banks."

Despite ten years of economic growth in Canada, the current poverty rate of 14.4% is higher than in 1989, the year before the last major recession more than a decade ago.

Hunger facts 2005

  • Number of people using a food bank in one month of 2005: 823,856 (total combined population of Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, and the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut: 758,500)
  • Food Bank increase in use since 1989: +118%
  • Number of food banks in Canada: 650
  • Number of meal programs open in March 2005: 127
  • Number of provinces and territories without a food bank: 0
  • Years since Canada's first food bank opened in Edmonton: 23
  • Highest provincial per capita food bank use: Newfoundland (5.5%)
  • Province assisting largest share of food bank recipients: Ontario (338,563)
  • Number of meals served in one month: 2.72 million
  • Percentage of food bank clients whose primary source of income is from employment: 13.1%
  • Percentage of food bank clients whose primary source of income is from social assistance: 51.6%
  • Number of provinces/territories with minimum wage rates above the Low Income Cut-Off (LICO): 0
  • Percentage of food bank clients who are children: 40.7%
  • Years since the federal government promised to eliminate child poverty: 16
  • Change in the number of hungry children since then (1989): +184,309


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