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Food bank use remains at recessionary levels


The  2011 HungerCount report from Food Banks Canada, says that food bank use is 26 per cent higher than it was prior to the onset of recession, and is nearly unchanged from 2010–the year that saw the highest level of food bank use on record.

According to the findings, among the 349,842 households that received food in March 2011, 40 per cent were composed of single people living along; 24 percent were single-parents families with children; 23 per cent were dual-parent families with children; 12 per cent were couples without children.

More than a third (38 per cent) of people receiving assistance from food banks are children and youth under age 18, while 4.4 per cent of are over the age of 65; among provinces, Manitoba (50 per cent) served the highest number of young people.

The report said that low income, whether in the short or long-term is at the root of the persistent need for charitable food assistance in Canada.

Among recommendations proposed in the report was the need for governments to provide adequate assistance to individuals and families through increasing federal and provincial support for affordable housing, the design of an income support system of last resort; and improving the labour market outcomes of disadvantaged workers.

Through both good and bad economies, food banks have been helping more than 700,000 separate individuals every month over the last decade, which the report said signalled serious long-term economic and social problems in Canada.

Some recommendations to decreases the numbers in need of food bank help include: investment in affordable housing; improvements to social assistance; protecting vulnerable seniors; updating employment insurance; supporting disadvantaged workers; investment in early learning and child care; and maintaining a strong Canadian social transfer–a federal cash transfer to provincial governments that is meant to support programs from post-secondary education to child care.

HungerCount is a comprehensive report on hunger and food bank use in Canada prepared by Food Banks Canada, a national charitable organization representing and supporting the food bank community.

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