Annual Who’s Hungry Report Illustrates Data on Causes and Consequences of Food Insecurity across Toronto Region

TORONTO–Food is a basic human right enshrined in the International Declaration of Human Rights, yet 1 in 7 households in the Toronto region are food insecure. Food bank use in the Toronto region is growing at double the rate of the population, with a 4% increase in the last year.

In partnership, Daily Bread Food Bank, North York Harvest Food Bank and The Mississauga Food Bank have released the annual Who’s Hungry report, profiling hunger in the Toronto region. This year’s report reveals the following:

There were over 1 million food bank client visits in the Toronto region this past year. This represents a 4% increase compared to the previous year.

98% of families who responded to our survey of food bank clients are living below Canada’s official poverty line

Food bank clients report spending 74% of their income on housing (an increase of 6% since last year), putting them at an extremely high risk of homelessness

The median amount of money left for food and all other expenses after rent is paid is $7.83 per person, per day. That amount has declined by 3% since last year

52% of food bank clients have skipped a meal to pay a bill; 25% of parents reported that their children go hungry at least once a month; 25% of food bank clients identify as Black, compared to only 8% of the Toronto population.

The report also shows that the greatest proportion of food bank clients are working-age adults between 19-44 years of age, living in single households. This can be attributed to a lack of programs and supports tailored to single adults, causing this portion of the population to fall through the cracks.

“Low incomes and the rising cost of living mean that our neighbours are struggling more and more to put food on the table. The fact that individuals have to choose between paying rent and feeding their child, is simply unacceptable,” says Neil Hetherington, CEO, Daily Bread Food Bank. “Food is basic human right, and our governments have a legal obligation to create an environment in which people have the physical and economic means to access adequate food,” Hetherington added.

“It is a moral catastrophe that we live in such a rich region in a rich country and still have a million visits to food banks. In order to address food insecurity, a collaborative effort by all levels of government is required,” Ryan Noble, Executive Director of North York Harvest Food Bank, explains. “It is our hope that our research and direct client experience will help form the foundation for strong public policy.”

“In the past year, there has been a significant increase in food bank use in Mississauga. This alarming trend is shared with other food banks across the Toronto Region, meaning more of our neighbours are struggling to access healthy, nutritious food,” says Meghan Nicholls, Executive Director, The Mississauga Food Bank. “Who’s Hungry makes it clear more action must be taken to realize each Canadian’s Right to Food in their community.”

A cornerstone in advocacy work for over a decade, the Who’s Hungry report provides quantitative and qualitative data about the experience of hunger and poverty in the Toronto region.

With over 1,400 food bank clients from 51 member agencies across the Toronto region participating in research efforts, this report sheds light on food insecurity in the Toronto region and provides concrete recommendations for how all levels of government can meet their legal obligations to uphold the right to food.

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