By Victoria Brown
Food bank use has reached an all time high in the province with over 412,000 Ontarians using food support and relief programs each month.
According to a report released Wednesday by the Ontario Association of Food Banks, this number is up from 395,000 in 2011 and 374,000 during the 2008 recession.
“We knew ultimately that food bank use was on the rise, but it was surprising that it reached this all time high,” Amanda King, manager of communications at OAFB, told Humber News.
There have been a number of factors this year that have contributed to this spike, said King, including a difficult agricultural season, plant closures and layoffs.
“Similarly the drought we had through the summer as well as the flooding we had in northern Ontario. So all of those things have contributed to the rise in food bank use,” she said.
Children represent almost 41 per cent of those who use the banks, said Gail Nyberg, executive director of the Daily Bread Food Bank. The second largest group is single parent households.
With this sudden climb in demand, Nyberg said food banks are feeling the pressure.
“It’s always a struggle, “ she said. “With the huge increase and quickly – we are struggling.”
Nyberg said the Daily Bread Food Bank is working to keep up with the high demand.
The bank has already raised $100,000 as a part of the Sounds of the Season campaign that started Dec.1 with the CBC.
The goal is to raise $200,000 by the end of the day, said Nyberg.
“There’s been a lot of stories about the climbing numbers at food banks here in Toronto, Ontario and in Canada, and I think this is in response to that,” she added.
The OAFB plans to take action against the sudden spike in food bank use by lobbying to Queen’s Park, said King.
The OAFB will call for a tax credit for farmers and housing benefits for low income families.