Title:HungerCount 2011: a comprehensive report on hunger and food bank use in Canada, and recommendations for change.
Corporate Author: Food Banks Canada
Subject:Food security – hunger, health|split|Food security – planning, policy
Publisher:Food Banks Canada
Place of Publication:Toronto
Date of Publication:2011
In March 2011, 851,014 people were assisted by food banks in Canada. Food bank use is 26% higher than in 2008, and this fact sends a clear message: the effects of the recession are still being felt across the country. As a result, a near record number of people are unable to afford enough food for themselves and their families.
Fifteen months after the end of the 2008-09 recession, food bank use was essentially unchanged from the same period in 2010. Almost half of food banks actually reported an increase in the number of people they assisted in March 2011, compared to the year before.
During the HungerCount survey period, 4,188 organizations participated in collecting information. Their records show that 93,085 people made the difficult decision to ask for help from a food bank for the first time. Requests for help came, in every province and territory, from a wide range of Canadians: people with jobs, on social assistance, and on pensions; single people and families with children; renters, homeowners, and the homeless; those whose families have lived here for generations, and new Canadians.
Food Banks Canada, in partnership with provincial associations, food banks, soup kitchens, and other food programs, has collected data on the need for charitable food assistance annually since 1997. This wealth of information allows us to see that food bank use increases and decreases with the health of the economy – for example, the number of people helped by food banks decreased steadily during the economic boom of the mid-2000s, only to shoot up during the recession, and stay elevated in the current year.
The HungerCount survey also shows that while food bank use moves with the economy, there appears to be a stubborn limit to how low the need for assistance can fall. Food banks have been helping more than 700,000 separate individuals each month for the better part of a decade, through good economic times and bad – a fact of life that the majority of Canadians find unacceptable.
This report provides a snapshot of the problem, and offers constructive recommendations that will improve the economic health of people assisted by food banks and drastically reduce the need for food assistance.