Food bank use skyrockets by 26% since 2008

Ottawa, November 1, 2011 – The results of the HungerCount 2011 survey released today show that far too many people are being left behind on Canada’s road to economic recovery.

HungerCount 2011 results indicate a staggering 26% increase in food bank use between 2008 and 2011. The report highlights that in a typical month, food banks across the country provide food to more than three quarters of a million separate individuals – 851,000 people – and more than 322,000 (38%) of those helped are children.“It is shocking that hundreds of thousands of Canadians need help from food banks each month to make ends meet,” said Katharine Schmidt, Executive Director of Food Banks Canada, which coordinated the national study involving more than 4,100 food assistance programs.

“The level of food bank use over the past three years has grown at an alarming rate and food banks are stretched to the limit,” continued Schmidt. “It is imperative that federal and provincial governments take action to help those in need right now, and to make changes so fewer people will need to resort to food banks.”

The HungerCount 2011 survey also found that:

• 11% of those receiving food each month – 94,000 people – are accessing a food bank for the first time.
• 1 in 5 individuals and families assisted by food banks have income from current or recent employment.
• 20% of households helped are living on an old age or disability pension.
• Half of households receiving food are families with children.

The HungerCount 2011 report provides recommendations to federal and provincial governments that if implemented will make significant progress in reducing the number of people who need help from food banks. Recommendations include:

• Invest in affordable housing so that low income Canadians don’t have to make the difficult choice between paying the rent and feeding their families.
• Improve Employment Insurance to better support older workers who have lost their jobs.
• Jumpstart innovative partnerships and government-led programs that help ensure that Canadian jobs are well-paying jobs.

“We need help right now,” said Schmidt. “Both food banks and the people they are helping are under very high levels of stress. The situation is simply unsustainable.”

For a full copy of the HungerCount 2011 report visit

About the HungerCount Survey

HungerCount was initiated in 1989, and is the only annual national research study of food banks and other food programs in Canada. Since 1997, data for the study have been collected every March. The information provided by the survey is invaluable, forming the basis of many Food Banks Canada activities throughout the year. For a full copy of the HungerCount 2011 report, and for more information, please visit

About Food Banks Canada

Food Banks Canada is the national charitable organization representing the food bank community across Canada. Our Members, Affiliate Member food banks, and their respective agencies serve approximately 85% of people accessing emergency food programs nationwide. We continue to work to find short term and long term solutions for the 850,000 Canadians who are assisted by a food bank every month.

Contact Information

Marzena Gersho,
Food Banks Canada,
647-242-5919 (mobile)
or (416) 203-9241, ext. 228 (office)

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