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First-time food bank users increase by 64%


A province-wide report suggests food bank usage is up for the sixth consecutive year.

Feed Ontario’s 2022 Hunger Report was released on Monday, saying that 600,000 people used food bank services in the past year. Since the onset of the pandemic, food bank usage has been up 42 per cent.

Carolyn Stewart, of Feed Ontario, said many across the province are forced to make tough decisions.  

"Do I pay for rent or do I pay for food? Do I pay for transit to work or do I buy my child a winter coat,” Stewart said.

"All of these choices -- that no one should ever have to make -- are being made all the time by so many Ontarians."

Additionally, people who are using food bank services for the first time have increased by 64 per cent, Stewart said.

Inner City Home Sudbury said it has frequently run out of staple items like bread and produce and it’s not always obvious who feels the pang of hunger.

"This is the first time we’re seeing an awful lot of people coming in who are double-income or triple-income families," said Ro Mullen, of Inner City Home Sudbury.

"People who own homes, own vehicles and this is the first time they’re having to access a food bank."

Mullen said her organization sees 1,200 families each month, with 40 of those being new visitors. She attributes this to the high cost of living.

"The rising cost of utilities, the rising cost of rent, mortgage, and people just aren’t making it month to month with the cost of food, with gas," Mullen said.

Feed Ontario also said breaking the cycle of poverty is much more difficult to do now than 30 years ago. According to the Hunger Report for 2022, a person born in the 1980s is 22 per cent more likely to remain in poverty than someone born in the 1960s.

"We’re seeing the decline of stable, well-paying, union manufacturing jobs of 40 years ago, with the rise of gig workers and precarious employment with no support or protections. And that, in addition to supports in the social safety net being dismantled and the disinvestment in affordable housing," Stewart said.

Inner City Homes said it needs food and financial donations as the holidays approach, adding that a little goes a long way.

"If everyone brought a few cases of Kraft dinner or a few dozen eggs, it would go such a long way,” Mullen said.

"It really is a matter of everybody coming together and fixing the little bits that they can to help make it a bit more liveable for everyone."

Feed Ontario listed four key recommendations in the report, which include improving the quality of work, improving social assistance, investing in affordable housing and putting people at the focus of policy design. Top Stories

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