More Canadians are facing hunger and food insecurity due to rising inflation and housing costs, according to newly released data from Food Banks Canada.
The charitable organization’s data shows that one-in-five (an estimated 7 million) Canadians now report going hungry — with 23% reporting that they are eating less “than they think they should” because there isn’t enough money for food.
“This summer will be the toughest Canada’s food banks have ever experienced in our 41 year history,” Food Banks Canada’s newly-appointed CEO Kirstin Beardsley said in a statement. “The majority of food banks in every region of Canada are already stretched to their limits, with demand expected to remain high throughout the summer months as more and more Canadians struggle to cope with rising inflation.”
According to Beardsley, 61% of Canadians now believe that rising housing costs are the biggest barrier that is preventing Canadians from being able to afford food, a sentiment that has doubled in the past year alone.
Around 1-in-3 Canadians who earn less than 50,000 a year reported instances of not having enough money for food between March 2020 and 2022
Typically, food banks across Canada see an easing of demand during the summer months, but according to Beardsley, food bankers on the frontlines are reporting no signs of slow-
“Food banks in most regions of Canada are experiencing an influx of Canadians visiting food banks for the first time — a number that’s increased by up to 25% in some regions, which we haven’t seen since the first few months of the pandemic,” explains Beardsley, adding that food banks are also reporting that they are seeing former food bank clients forced to return, after 5 or more years of not having to rely on food banks to get by.
Beardsley believes inflation is driving the high demand food banks are seeing.
“In the past, people would turn to food banks during times of job loss, or due to lower wages — but over the past six months, Canadians are telling us that they are running out of money for food because of rising housing, gas, energy and food costs,” states Beardsley. “That’s an indication that we need to find new longer-term solutions to fight hunger and food insecurity.”
“It’s time to tackle hunger at its root causes by improving access to affordable housing and piloting innovative, long-term income supports,” says Beardsley, adding that Food Banks Canada encourages concerned Canadians to support their local food banks who are stretched to the limit.