Only 3 Canadian Provinces Are Using Food Banks More Than They Were Last Year
People are visiting food banks for meals and snacks more than they used to.
A lot of Canadians are still struggling with food insecurity. Food banks in Canada saw an increase in visits in three provinces over the last year. So while that means in most of the country there were fewer food bank visits, there's definitely work that needs to be done in Canada to make sure everyone is able to have food every day.
According to Food Banks Canada's annual HungerCount report, Canadians are still dealing with food insecurity and are using food banks to get meals and snacks. However, three provinces saw a bigger increase in visits than others.
In Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland & Labrador, there has been an increase in the number of people in those provinces visiting food banks.
"It's been a tough year for those who struggle with hunger and we’re fearful of what’s ahead," the report stated.
New Brunswick had the biggest increase with 22,625 people visiting food banks which is a 7.9 percent difference from last year.
In Newfoundland & Labrador, food bank visits increased by 5.8 percent to 10,704.
Of the provinces with increases, Ontario had the most total food bank visits but the lowest actual increase. 339,613 people visited food banks in the province which is a 4.8 percent increase from last year.
And while the total number of visits to food banks in Quebec hasn't seen an increase, the same can't be said for rural areas specifically.
In rural Quebec, there have been 56,977 food banks visits which is a massive 13.9 percent increase from last year.
Nova Scotia and P.E.I have also seen small increases in rural visits only.
In all of Canada, there have been more than one million food bank visits in 2019 and more than 5.5 million meals and snacks were served.
Even though Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland & Labrador have seen increases in the number of visits, Canada as a whole has seen a decrease of 1.1 percent. However, it's still not enough.
"Food bank use remains at unacceptably high levels," the report stated. "While food banks are finding new and innovative ways to provide healthy, nutritious food and a wide variety of services to support those they serve, only long-term policy solutions can address the root causes of hunger in Canada."
Policy changes suggested by Food Banks Canada include increasing supports for single adults with low incomes, putting the Canada Housing Benefit in effect immediately, taking a basic income approach to income security to address poverty among single people, and creating a program for people with disabilities who are ill and unemployed.
The amount of single-person households using food banks has hit a record high.
And people living on their own account for 48 percent, nearly half, of all food bank users in Canada.
"Of prime concern is the need for a better income security system to reduce food insecurity among this group, who also experience high rates of poor mental health," said Chris Hatch, Food Banks Canada CEO, in a news release.
Other provinces and territories have seen food bank visits decline over the last year.
According to Food Banks Canada, overall food bank use has stabilized across the country thanks to a decline in unemployment rates.