Hunger is toxic for those living through it – HungerCount Report 2012

Hunger Count 2012: a comprehensive report on hunger and food bank use in Canada, and recommendations for change.

We posted the earlier report for Ontario and this additional report provides a summary across Canada and key recommendations.

In Rural Ontario

  • 42% people accessing food banks are women followed by 17.1% aboriginal persons
  • 39.7 % are single people and 23.8% are two-parent families
  • 39.3 are on social assistance and 33.6 on disability-related income support; 10.8% are wage earners
  • 67.3 are rental market tenants and 15.2% are social housing tenants

The key factor at the root of the need for food banks is low income, whether in the short or long term. People asking for help are working in low-paying jobs, receiving meagre social assistance benefits, managing on inadequate pensions.

They face rising costs related to food, housing, and energy. In the current economy, they are worried that things are not going to get better.

These issues have a deep impact. Hunger is toxic for those living through it, and it is harmful to Canada as a whole. It reduces the economic contributions of individuals, and increases costs related to health care and social services. To address it, we need to be smarter about helping people become more self-sufficient, and we need to be more supportive of those who need help over the longer term.

HungerCount offers 5 key recommendations:

1. Increase federal investment in affordable housing, so that people are not forced to choose between paying rent or buying food.

2. Establish a Northern Food Security Innovation Fund, comprehensive territorial school breakfast programs, and new community infrastructure, to help address the incredibly high levels of household food insecurity in the territories.

3. Improve the Guaranteed Income Supplement so that no senior falls below the poverty line.

4. At the provincial government level, make significant changes to social assistance, so that the program helps people to live with dignity and get back on their feet.

5. Increase the value, and broaden eligibility for the Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB), and increase investment in education and training for the hundreds of thousands of unemployed people in Canada who are not able to access Employment Insurance benefits.


Food Banks Hunger Count Report – Ontario

Ontario Association of Food Banks Hunger Count Report

From the 2012 survey results, the following has been determined:
•412,998 individuals accessed Ontario food banks in March 2012
•38.7% of food bank users, or 159,918 individuals, were children (11,737 more children than in March 2011)
•44.6 % of all food bank users were women over 18 years of age
•174,618 households were served by food banks (9.8% of which were first time users)
•42.8% of food bank users were on social assistance
•27.3% of food bank users were on disability support
•64.5% of food bank users were low-income, rental market tenants
•19.2% of food banks ran out of nutritious food during the month

What do these figures mean?

These figures tell us that an undeniably high number of people in Ontario live each and every day chronically hungry. What’s more, these numbers tell us that food bank use, in Ontario, is at an all time high. Far surpassing the statistical count of 2011, and even that of the 2008 recession (with 374,000 users), more individuals are seeking assistance from food banks than ever before. In the month of March alone, no less than 412,998 individuals accessed food banks, including over 17,190 households that accessed food banks for the first time in their lives.

There are a number of key factors that have contributed to this increase in need. Unemployment rates, rising food and housing costs, and cuts to government expenditures left many Ontarians falling short financially. Environmental anomalies have impacted jobs, and food supply, which will increase demand on food banks throughout the year. The spring’s warm weather and the frost that followed, coupled with the harsh, dry summer, left many rural communities and farmers’ fields empty or filled with ruined crops. Flooding in the north
uprooted entire communities, forcing some to leave their homes and others to have to pay for extensive damages with little means to do so.

All told, access to healthy foods — such as fruit, vegetables, lean meats, and dairy — has become increasingly difficult and more expensive.

Find full Ontario Report at: