May 31, 2013
The Put Food in the Budget campaign organized a unique event to recognize World Hunger Day on Tuesday May 28.
The Put Food in the Budget campaign has learned over the course of our campaign that hundreds of thousands of people are hungry at every stage of life in Ontario because their income is too low. They don’t have enough money to pay the rent and buy food.
Front line workers from public service unions and student, worker and volunteer associations told an audience of high school students about people they serve that do not have enough income to provide nutritious food to their families.
The over-riding message from these stories is that people in Ontario now can literally be ‘Hungry for Life’. ‘Hungry for life’ has two meanings. Young people in high school are on the brink of beginning their adult lives. We all want our young people to thrive and to be hopeful about the future. We want them to be ‘hungry for life’ – we don’t want them to feel hopeless or to fear the future. In workshops this afternoon we will talk about the reality of poverty in Ontario, and talk about how together we might ‘unveil opportunities for hope’.
Diego, a student in the audience, responded to the panel’s presentation by saying ‘We all need to eat, food is a human right.’
The Ontario government does not have a serious strategy to end poverty in Ontario. The proposed welfare reforms in the recent Ontario budget are neither fundamental nor far-reaching as some would have us believe. The current rates for social assistance and the current minimum wage in Ontario ensure that people in Ontario with low incomes will continue to starve.
Premier Wynne’s proposed welfare reforms are inadequate. Premier Wynne must
‘Put Food in the Budget’ by raising social assistance rates and raising the minimum wage to ensure people have enough money to buy healthy food without relying on food banks.
The Toronto Star published two articles on the Put Food in the Budget event.
You can read them here.
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: http://bit.ly/YxvM88