When we look back on this past year, two truths stand out:
- Food bank use reached crisis levels. Toronto’s social safety net couldn’t hold against inflation and the city’s skyrocketing cost of living, impacting tens of thousands of people.
- In the face of this record need, our community came together to ensure that every Torontonian had a place to turn to for food.
In some ways, 2022 was scary. At the beginning of the year, Toronto food banks were seeing about 120,000 client visits per month, which is twice the pre-pandemic average. By the time our calendars flipped to December, client visits had more than tripled 2019 levels, topping out at 208,108 in November.
But while the need rose, our community rose with it. Students and families rallied their neighbourhoods for nonperishables. Yoga studios, breweries, vet clinics and myriad other businesses ran food drives, placing our yellow bins at their doors. Volunteers signed up for extra shifts to sort through these incoming donations. Ontario farms gave us bushels of fresh produce. And donors amped up their regular gifts to help us close the gap.
We thank you all for your steadfast support this past year. Through your actions, you’ve declared loudly that food is a human right. Because of your dedication, those experiencing hunger in our city had access to the food they needed.
Here is what your generosity and help accomplished last year:
- We distributed over 18.6 million pounds of food to Torontonians experiencing hunger, the most ever in one year
- Food bank clients received 2.9 million pounds of fresh produce through our Farm to Food Bank program
- Our kitchen cooked up 157,808 healthy meals for meal programs throughout the city, including 17,000 meals distributed by the Red Cross Mobile Food Bank and Isolation program
- Our incredible, 1,200-strong volunteers sorted and packed close to 3.5 million pounds of public donations, dedicating 51,742 hours — that’s nearly six whole years! — to ending hunger in our city
Also through your support, our Research and Advocacy team was able to arm policymakers with data-backed tools to reverse recent food-insecurity trends:
- Our Who’s Hungry report revealed that Toronto would experience a record-high 2 million client visits in 2022, and highlighted exact policy changes that would reduce poverty and thereby food insecurity
- In March, the University of Calgary’s Professor Ron Kneebone and Margarita Wilkins published a report using more than six years of Daily Bread data that showed how many more food bank visits are caused by rent hikes, and how many can be prevented through increases in minimum wage or disability benefits
- The new Click/Hear program regularly interviews food bank clients about the daily realities of Toronto food insecurity, from home cooling to the recent 5% raise to ODSP rates
- Our A Decade of Deep Poverty report synthesized 12 years of Daily Bread data and found that even if the typical food bank client’s income doubled, they’d still be living below the poverty line
On top of this research work, your support enabled us to advocate for change by hosting a debate for all Etobicoke-Lakeshore candidates in the municipal election; making multiple submissions to all levels of government that called for increased disability, labour, and income supports for clients; and supporting Defend Disability, a network of agencies and people with lived experience pushing for change with ODSP.
We are all so grateful for your partnership over the past year and look forward to working together in 2023. We’ve got our work cut out for us this year. Canada’s Food Price Report forecasts a 5%-7% surge in grocery prices, which will no doubt increase food bank use unless policymakers intervene.
But we’ve seen what this community can do. From the workplace food drives to the community champions, from the tireless volunteers to the generous donors, from the corporate supporters to the policy advocates — together we have the power to end hunger in our city.
Learn more about your impact throughout 2022 here. Looking to get involved in 2023? Check out our blog post that highlights five ways to help our mission.