In Canada, household food insecurity has been measured by Statistics Canada using the Household Food Security Survey Module (HFSSM) on the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS). This survey consists of 18 questions about the food security status of the household over the previous year, and focuses on the selfreports of uncertain, insufficient, or inadequate food access due to limited financial resources, and the impact that this had on the household’s eating patterns. The experiences reported by the households are then categorized under three categories:
• Food Secure: Household experienced either ‘no indication’ or ‘one indication’ of difficulty in accessing their preferred quantity and quality of food, due to income.
• Moderate Food Insecurity: Household had to compromise the quality or quantity of their food choices, due to insufficient income.
• Severe Food Insecurity: Household had disrupted eating patterns, due to insufficient income. This may have included eating less than needed, skipping meals, or going one or more days without food.
Half a million people use a food bank in Ontario
In this season of abundance, it can be easy to forget that there are many families and people in our communities who are facing empty cupboards and are struggling to make ends meet. Yet, every 10 seconds, someone visits a food bank in Ontario, representing the 507,000 adults, children and seniors who access food banks more than 3 million times each year.
When we look more closely at the numbers, we begin to see a clearer picture of who these individuals and families are. Children remain one of the largest individual groups of food bank users, with 1 in 3 being a child under 18 years of age.
While a number of investments have been made by both the provincial and federal governments in reducing child poverty in Canada, children still remain disproportionately at risk of hunger. This is particularly troubling given how essential proper nutrition is to a child’s cognitive development, physical health, and overall well-being.
Another growing demographic is single-person households, which now represent more than half the households that visit food banks. Part of the challenge faced by single-person households is that there is only one income to cover all monthly expenses. With skyrocketing rental and housing rates, and without the flexibility provided by an additional income source, it is increasingly more difficult for a single person to adjust to unexpected changes or expenses, while living on a tight budget.
There are a number of reasons as to why someone might need to visit a food bank. It may be the result of a large employer closing in the area, a recent job loss, an ongoing illness or disability, or even a local natural disaster that has created a number of unexpected expenses. Luckily, food banks are there to help individuals and families get back on their feet, no matter the circumstances that led to them walking through the doors.
From nutritious food to meal programs, community gardens to referral services, and holiday hampers to children and seniors’ programs, food banks help their communities to not only survive, but once again thrive.
This Thanksgiving, thousands of families will face going without
This Thanksgiving, as many of us sit down to a full table of roast turkey, fluffy mashed potato, and delicious pumpkin pie, 507,000 of our neighbours will seek help to put even the most basic of meals on their own table.
Food banks across the province will be waiting with open arms to help ensure every adult and child can experience a meal to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, and beyond. But they can’t do it alone.
There are a number of ways you can help support your local food bank. Through food donations (both fresh and non-perishable) or volunteering, you can make an incredible difference for families in need in your community.
Contact your local food bank to learn more about the volunteer opportunities in your community and their most needed food items.
You can also support local food banks this Thanksgiving by donating to Feed Ontario. All funds raised will support the equitable distribution of food across the province to communities that need it most, as well as investments in community programs and food bank capacity. Every $1 you give will provide the equivalent of 3 meals to someone facing hunger.
From securing fresh and healthy food sources, to driving change through policy research and innovative programming, Feed Ontario unites food banks, industry partners, and local communities in our work to end hunger and poverty.
Source: Feed Ontario
About Feed Ontario: From securing fresh and healthy food sources, to driving change through policy research and innovative programming, Feed Ontario unites food banks, industry partners, and local communities in our work to end hunger and poverty. Formerly known as the Ontario Association of Food Banks, we re-branded as Feed Ontario in 2019 to reflect the growth of the provincial food bank network and the collective action of our partners. Go to www.feedontario.ca for more information.