A Decade of Deep Poverty

Poverty is the root cause of food insecurity. Many food bank clients live in deep poverty, defined as having a household disposable income below 75% of the official poverty line. Deep poverty is significant, lasting poverty which limits ability to access basic necessities, including food.

Decade of Deep Poverty takes a deep dive into twelve years of data from Who’s Hungry to look at income and poverty among Toronto food bank clients. The results are disconcerting and compelling.

Canada’s official poverty line is based on a calculation of the costs of basic necessities such as housing, food, transportation, clothing, and other necessities. In Toronto, the minimum annual income needed to live a life of basic dignity would be $24,720. One would be considered in “deep poverty” if your annual income was less than $18,540.

In the past 10 years, almost every food bank client was living below the poverty line, and the vast majority were living below the deep poverty line. Food bank clients with social assistance as their primary income source were most likely to be living in deep poverty.

The report makes clear that income supports are a critical component to tackling food insecurity in Toronto.