By: Haiat Iman, Research and Survey Coordinator
After Daily Bread Food Bank released the 2016 Who’s Hungry report, Daily Bread held informal focus groups with food bank clients. This two-part series describes clients’ day-to-day experience of food insecurity and their survival strategies. Read the first blog post in this series here.
Hunger has become a distressing reality for many families in Toronto. The number of people reliant on food banks as a source of food has reached alarming heights and is still rising, with a 13% increase in food bank visits since 2008.
According to the 2016 Who’s Hungry report, the average income of a food bank client is $750 per month, with at least 71% of their incomes spent on rent and utilities. On average, once rent and utilities were paid, food bank clients had $7.09 left over for any additional expenses, including food.
Food banks are also struggling: declines in donations and increases in a need for food aid challenge food banks’ ability to assist all those who seek their services. People struggling with hunger are forced to be resourceful in their abilities to stretch their dollars and make their food supply last.
Focus group participants reported numerous ways in which they stretch their limited food resources when they do not have the means to purchase additional food.
• Those who have no money either do without a meal or find organizations that offer meal programs – but to exercise the latter option, however, requires that one be mobile: they must have access to transportation to get to these locations or be healthy enough to walk there.
• Some focus group participants volunteer at food banks to get extra food.
• Many respondents reported that they ration their meals, water down their soups, or try to stay full on liquids.
• Some food bank clients say they have condensed milk and a few bags of tea steeping all day on the stove for anyone to drink in order to stay full.
• Some reported watering down juice to make it last longer.
• Some pooled their resources with others who struggle with hunger and shared a meal together.
Daily Bread Food Bank’s annual Who’s Hungry report offers detailed statistics and analysis about the impact of food insecurity in Toronto.
To read the most recent report, go to: http://www.dailybread.ca/whoshungry/