Food Bank Usage on the Rise

Canadian food bank users up 26 per cent since 2008

(TORONTO, ON) – Annual food bank drives couldn’t be coming at a more urgent time.  According to Food Banks Canada’s annual report, more than 850,000 Canadians used food banks in March 2015, and of those, nearly 80,000 accessed a foodbank for the first time.  Food bank usage in Canada is 26 per cent higher than it was in 2008, before the start of the global financial crisis.

A provincial breakdown shows that Alberta has seen the largest increase in food bank use, dwarfing the increases in other parts of Canada:

  Total Assisted,March 2015 % Change,2014-2015 % Change,2008-2015
British Columbia 100,086 2.8% 28.1%
Alberta 67,443 23.4% 82.8%
Saskatchewan 26,727 -0.3% 50.6%
Manitoba 63,791 3.4% 57.6%
Ontario 358,963 -4.2% 14.2%
Quebec 163,152 4.0% 27.9%
New Brunswick 18,986 -3.1% 21.4%
Nova Scotia 19,722 0.3% 16.6%
Price Edward Island 3,153 -8.1% 9.0%
Newfoundland 25,040 -5.9% -8.1%
Canada 852,137 1.3% 26.1%

Source: HUNGERCOUNT2015, Food Banks Canada, November 2015

Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada is one of the many organizations holding a food bank drive this holiday season.  The non-profit’s annual drive is aiming to beat last year’s contribution of 300 pounds of food for a local food bank.  Executive director Jeff Schwartz says there is no such thing as a “stereotypical” food bank user.

There’s a belief that only a narrow section of our population uses a food bank, but that’s not the case,” comments Schwartz.  “Food insecurity affects a range of Canadians, from families to singles, retired to working-class.”

Food Banks Canada data shows that 1 in 6 food bank users are employed, and 67 per cent of households helped by food banks live in rental housing and pay market-level rent.

Whether it’s low wages, high housing costs, credit card debt with crippling interest charges, or any of the other day-to-day living expenses, it’s becoming harder and harder for Canadians to make ends meet,” says Schwartz.  “Increases in food bank usage since 2008 show that people are still in need.

For those who are feeling financially vulnerable, there are ways to step back from the brink.  Schwartz and the team at Consolidated Credit came up with some ways that you can perform financial first aid and find the best possible alternatives to foodbanks:

Assess the situation – Take a hard look at your finances.  Tally up what is coming in, and what is going out.  Look at your debit and credit statements and compare them to Consolidated Credit’s suggested budget percentages to see if you are overspending.

Create a budget – The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada recently found that only 46 per cent of Canadians use a budget.  Budgets are a simple, easy way to organize your money.  Maximize your dollars by crafting a budget that makes sense and that addresses your financial obligations.  Budgeting worksheets can help get things started.

Prioritize needs and forget wants – Until you get back on firm financial footing, you need to focus entirely on paying for the essentials – food being one of them.  The little extras in life will have to wait.  Before you pay for something, ask yourself if you need this item or if you want this item.

Use the tools that are available – Don’t make things harder than they need to be.  Income assistance tools exist for a reason.  Check with federal, provincial, and municipal government offices to learn more about available help.  If crushing debt is the reason you are having financial difficulty, try reaching out to a non-profit credit counsellor.


About Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc.:
Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada is a national non-profit credit counselling organization that teaches consumers about personal finance.

For more information or to request an interview with Jeffrey Schwartz, please contact:

Jacob MacDonald, Manager of Community and Public Relations, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc., T: 416-915-7283 ext.1041, C: 647-390-5253, F: 416-915-5200, E: [email protected]

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