Mar 8, 2023

Elena’s Story: Surviving on ODSP 

Elena’s Story: Surviving on ODSP

Imagine having a successful, well-paying career that provides you with a comfortable lifestyle – your rent is always covered, and the rising cost of groceries may pinch, but you never worry about where your next meal will come from. Suddenly, compounding medical issues that were once manageable worsen, leaving you with little mobility and unable to work. Your income is now zero.

Elena, a Daily Bread Food Bank client, found herself in this extremely difficult situation. Health complications forced her to shut down her sales agency, and today Elena survives on the limited income she receives from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)…and support from her local food bank.

“I don’t know how I would survive without the food bank, especially with the rising cost of groceries,” says Elena. “I need a balanced diet to help with my health issues, at the food bank I can get fruits and vegetables and even some protein like meat and lentils – they have a good selection.” 

According to the Who’s Hungry 2022 report, 44% of food bank clients, like Elena, reported having a disability or health condition, and 22% reported ODSP as their primary source of income. Currently in Ontario, the maximum ODSP rate for a single individual is $1,228 per month and $733 for Ontario Works (OW) – well below Toronto’s official poverty line of $2,060 per month. Individuals relying on social assistance are living in deep poverty and do not have the basics needed to live a dignified life.

Month after month, the impact of insufficient incomes, combined with inflation and the rising cost of living, are leading to record-breaking food bank use. “I see more and more people using the food bank every time I go,” says Elena. “The volunteers and staff are working so hard to keep up. I know it is tiring, but I want to remind everyone what a difference they are making in people’s lives…people who are struggling to have food in their cupboards.” 

At Daily Bread Food Bank we are committed to supporting Elena today, and thousands just like her who are facing extreme challenges to meet their essential needs. At the same time, we are advocating for government action to ensure the right to food for everyone in our city.

We are deeply grateful to our generous donors, volunteers and advocates for the continuous support and commitment to ensuring our neighbours facing hunger can always access the food they need.

Click here if you’d like to make a donation to support individuals like Elena, who need our support today.

Photo courtesy of Toronto Sun.

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