Every year, with the assistance of volunteers, Daily Bread Food Bank conducts a survey across the GTA of people who access food banks. The surveys were completed with the cooperation of Daily Bread member agencies and regional partners: The Mississauga Food Bank, North York Harvest Food Bank, York Region Food Network and Feed the Need in Durham.
Even as the economy recovers, the number of visits to food banks remain at unacceptably high levels.
Overall number of client visits to all GTA food banks: 1,082,000
Percentage increase from pre-recession period in 2008: 14%
Number of client visits to food banks in Toronto: 908,000
Number of client visits to food banks in the 905 regions: 174,000
Number of client visits to Daily Bread Food Bank member agencies: 794,000
For most people, food bank use is a temporary measure to help manage difficult financial periods so they can still eat while trying to pay the rent. These periods can include sudden job loss or reduction in hours of work, a sudden injury or illness, or being new to the country and not being able to work.
Percentage of clients who have used a food bank for 6 months or less: 32%
Of the food bank clients who have been coming 6 months or less, the reasons for visits include:
Losing their jobs or reduced hours at work: 41%
New to area/country: 19%
People who come to food banks do so because they are going hungry due to lack of income. For nearly half of food bank clients, hunger means either not being able to eat balanced meals, or not eating for an entire day due to lack of money.
Median monthly household income: $925
Percentage of adults who go hungry at least one day per week: 40%
Percentage of children who go hungry at least one day per week: 19%
Percentage of adults who often could not afford to eat balanced meals: 43%
Percentage of adults who have not eaten for an entire day due to lack of money: 46%
The vast majority of food bank clients (67%) receive their income from one of Ontario’s social assistance programs, either Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program. These programs provide low levels of income, and are not indexed to inflation.
Percentage of clients receiving Ontario Works as their main source of income: 44%
Percentage of clients receiving Ontario Disability Support Program as their main source of income: 23%
The ongoing transition of the labour market from full-time to irregular work means having employment no longer guarantees income security. One quarter of food bank clients have someone in their household who is working. While the majority earns more than minimum wage, most are working part-time or casual jobs, and most do not have drug or dental benefits.
Percentage of clients with at least one person in the household who is employed: 25%
Percentage of clients listing employment as their main source of income: 12%
Median hourly wage: $11.60
Percentage of clients who are earning more than the $10.25 minimum wage per hour: 67%
Percentage not receiving drug or dental benefits: 79%
Unlike food, paying the rent every month is non-negotiable. The cost of housing is a key reason people go hungry and have to come to a food bank, regardless of any other circumstance. Even people in subsidized housing regularly go hungry due to lack of money for food.
Percentage of income spent on housing plus utilities: 72%
People who pay market rent: 70%
Average amount remaining per person per day after rent and utilities are paid: $5.67
Percentage of people living in subsidized housing who haven’t eaten for an entire day because of lack of money for food: 46%
In the last five years there have been emerging trends among people coming to food banks. There are more single person households, a larger percentage of people in the 45 to 64 age range, and more people with higher levels of education than there were five years ago.
|Per cent of single person households:||45%||42%|
|Per cent of clients between ages of 45-64:||24%||20%|
|Per cent of respondents who have a university or post-graduate degree:||28%||21%|