2022 Durham Region Hunger Report
For Immediate Release:
It’s Harder to Escape Poverty Today than 30 Years Ago, New Report Reveals
Feed the Need in Durham reveals skyrocketing food bank use across the Region in partnership with Feed Ontario’s Hunger Report
December 9, 2022 (Oshawa, ON) – Last week, Feed Ontario released its 2022 Hunger Report, revealing that nearly 600,00 people across the province accessed emergency food support last year, visiting more than 4.3 million times. This is an increase of 15 percent and 42 percent respectively over pre-pandemic numbers from 2019, and the sixth consecutive year that food bank use has risen. The report recognizes the impact that high inflation has had on food bank use in Ontario but points to decades of insufficient investments in quality jobs, the provincial social safety net, and affordable housing as the primary drivers of this growth.
In conjunction with the Hunger Report, Feed the Need in Durham has launched a data brief with a summary pertaining to Durham Region’s services between April 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022.
“As the regional emergency food hub for Durham, we are continuing to see a rise in the use and need for food security programs across our networks, says Ben Earle, CEO, Feed the Need in Durham. During this time frame there has been a 58 percent increase in the number of visits made to food banks, with 1 in 4 visitors being first time users. This is a 14 percent increase since 2019.
The 2022 Hunger Report details data that shows that a child born to the poorest Canadians in the 1980s is 22 percent more likely to remain in poverty as an adult than a child born in the same conditions in the 1960s. While there are several complex considerations that contribute to this outcome, the report identifies a steady growth in low-wage and precarious jobs, cuts to the provincial and federal social safety nets, and a disinvestment in affordable housing that put thousands of Ontario families in financially precarious positions, even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“Food banks are designed to provide emergency support,” said Carolyn Stewart, executive director of Feed Ontario. “Today however, the demands on food banks are not limited to emergency response. Food banks across the province are becoming increasingly relied upon to help fill the gaps left by social policies and programs that are failing to meet the needs of Ontarians.”
As detailed in the report, despite Ontario’s low unemployment rate, workers still struggle to make ends meet as the labour market has shifted from well paying, stable, unionized jobs to those that tend to be part-time, temporary, and low paying. While manufacturing jobs were once the bedrock of Ontario’s labour market, gig work is on the rise with nearly 1 in 10 workers in jobs that are considered independent contractors and operate outside the protection of the Employment Standards Act. The impact that low-quality jobs are having on Ontarians is reflected in provincial food bank data, which shows a 47 percent increase in people with employment accessing food banks since 2018.
In addition to the rise in precarious employment, the report points to the erosion of essential worker support benefits and an inadequate social safety net as longstanding contributors to food bank use in the province. In 2021-2022, 7% of food bank clients in Durham indicated that low or declining wages and/or employment loss was their primary reason for visiting the program.
As detailed in the report, Employment Insurance is not easily accessible to most unemployed Ontarians, with only 27 percent receiving benefits, and social assistance rates continue to fall far below poverty line, with two out of three people who access food banks being program recipients.
Together with Feed Ontario, Feed the Need Durham is calling on the province to take immediate action by providing gig workers with the same employment protections as other sectors; increasing social assistance rates to a basic standard of living; making housing affordable by investing in new and renovated affordable housing initiatives; and including people with lived experience in the design and development of programs and policies.
2022 Hunger Report Highlights and Trends
Durham Region Food Bank Use Data
- Food bank use remains at an all-time high with this year marking the sixth consecutive year of food bank use increases.
- 23,661 individuals accessed a food bank between April 1,2021 and March 31, 2022
- 134,518 visits were made by these individuals to food banks within that period
- 38 percent of all individuals served at food banks were children and youth under the age of 18 years
- 344,761 visits to emergency meal/snack programs across Durham Region
- 68 percent increase meal/snack program visits driven by a 91 percent increase in the number of visits to emergency meal programs
About Feed the Need in Durham:
Feed the Need in Durham is the regional emergency food hub for Durham and supports over 60 food security organizations and programs across the community. Feed the need in Durham believes that food insecurity should not prevent anyone from fulfilling their potential or participating fully in the life of our community. It is our mandate to work with our member agencies and community partners to alleviate hunger and reduce poverty. While Feed the Need in Durham believes that we need to work collectively to provide support to those who face food insecurity today, the organization supports and promotes evidence-based policy solutions that will address income inequality and labour market precarity that are the root cause of food insecurity in our community.
About Feed Ontario:
From securing fresh and healthy food sources to driving change through policy research and innovative programming, Feed Ontario unites food banks, industry partners, and local communities in its work to end poverty and hunger. Join Feed Ontario and help build a healthier province. Every $1 raised provides the equivalent of 3 meals to an Ontarian facing hunger.
In 2022, Feed Ontario marks 30 years of feeding communities. While 30 years is a noteworthy milestone, food banks began as a temporary measure. That is why Feed Ontario’s 30th anniversary is an UnCelebration. Throughout its anniversary year, Feed Ontario will recognize the incredible achievements of Ontario’s food bank network while continuing its work to end hunger and poverty. Learn more at: www.feedontario.ca
For more information, please contact:
Andrea Waters | Feed Ontario | firstname.lastname@example.org| 416-656-4100 x2941