Food Banks have experienced great transitions since their inception 20 years ago. While hot meal programs have been around since the depression, emergency grocery programs started out with one objective and one goal. The objective was to respond to the need of people who go hungry and the goal was to facilitate the required policy changes that would eliminate the need. It seems like a simple task. Over the 20 year period the system and subsequent changes to it, have left a devastating trail in its wake. In 1980, people in need were at risk of going hungry for a few days, today the risks have far deepening consequences. As social service based incomes recede and minimum wage trails so far behind the current rate of inflation, food banks have become the last stop before families become homeless. Food banks were created to address a temporary crisis. Twenty years later, living in crisis and dogging one emergency after another, low-income families are at great risk of losing their housing.
According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Company, affordable housing should account for no more than 30% of total household income. For single parents on Ontario Works (OW) the rent will account for 49%-77% of their total household income. The picture is equally grim for OW income rates for single people, as they will spend 67%-100% of their income on rent.
Food banks have grown from a small supplemental grocery service, helping those in need during an emergency situation, into being the last line of defence for families and individuals to retain their housing. The responsibility for making up the shortfall has been placed squarely on the shoulders of the charitable sector.