Hunger and Homelessness

Food Banks have experienced great transitions since their inception 25 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 25 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. The situation is dire for 85% of emergency food program users who spend over 30% of their income on rent. Almost half spend between 50% and 99% of their income on rent.

% Of Income Spent on Rent% of HouseholdsTop 3 Income Sources% of Households
Less than 30%11.5%ODSP
OW
CTB
33.3%
28.9%
13.2%
30% - 49%37.2%ODSP
OW
CTB
44.1%
24.0%
5.9%
50% - 99%48.1%OW
ODSP
CPP
35.7%
33.2%
5.1%

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.