Every March Food Banks Canada surveys it's members compiling comprehensive data on hunger and food bank use across Canada. Hunger Count 2011 was released yesterday and as always the numbers are staggering.
In March 2011 the number of people who used a food bank in this country was 851,014 virtually unchanged from last year but still up 26% from 2008. More than 93,000 Canadians turned to a food bank for assistance for the first time. Those that use food banks run the gamut from young to elderly,singles to families,urban to rural and unemployed to those with jobs.
Here are some of the key findings in Hunger Count 2011
LEVELS OF FOOD BANK USE
• 851,014 separate individuals received food from a food bank in March 2011; while this is down 2% from 2010, it remains 26% higher than in 2008 and is the second highest level of use on record.
• 93,085 people, or 11% of the total, received help from a food bank for the first time during the survey period.
• In rural areas, 114,122 individuals – or 13% of the national total – received food from food banks; 10% of them were being helped for the first time.
• Food banks assisted 2.5% of the Canadian population in March 2011, compared to 2.6% in 2010 and 2.0% in 2008.
• Food bank use in 2011 was 20% higher than in 2001.
CHARACTERISTICS OF INDIVIDUALS ASSISTED
• 38% of those receiving food were children and youth under age 18.
• 47% were women and girls.
• 4.4% were seniors over age 65, rising to 5.7% in rural areas.
• 10% self-identified as First Nations, Métis, or Inuit.
• 11% were immigrants or refugees – increasing to 18.5% in large cities.
• 4% were postsecondary students.
CHARACTERISTICS OF HOUSEHOLDS HELPED BY FOOD BANKS
The 851,014 individuals who received food in March 2011 were members of 349,842 households:
• 40% of these households were composed of single people living alone.
• 24% were single-parent families with children.
• 23% were dual-parent families with children.
• 12% were couples without children.
Household income came from a variety of sources:
• 52% reported social assistance as their primary source of income.
• 18% have earnings from current or recent employment.
• 13% receive disability-related income supports.
• 7% live primarily on pension benefits.
• 5% reported having no source of income.
• 2% reported student loans and scholarships as their major source of income
HOUSING AND FOOD BANK USE
• The majority of those helped by food banks are renters – 66% pay market rent and 22% live in subsidized housing.
• Nationally, 7% are homeowners – in rural areas, this figure rises to 15%.
• 6% are homeless, i.e., living in an emergency shelter, group home, on the street, or temporarily with family or friends.
• 2% live in band-owned housing, increasing to 5% in rural areas.
With the world on the cusp of another recession, even though for many the last one never ended , these numbers are sure to worsen. But hey we weathered the last one better than most. We did, didn't we? Mr. Harper