BY KELLY ROCHE
Food and cash donations are needed to ensure children, families and seniors don’t go hungry this Christmas.
Every year, “Mississauga always surprises us,” by the generosity of its residents, said Mississauga Food Bank executive director Chris Hatch.
The HungerCount 2015 report shows 852,137 people – including 305,366 children – accessed a food bank last March.
“In the short-term, people turn to food banks for diverse reasons – layoffs, a sudden illness, a rent increase that eats into a family’s food budget,” said FBC executive director Katharine Schmidt in a statement.
“The underlying issue that has kept food bank use so high for so long is the fact that millions of Canadians are trying to make ends meet with incomes that fall far below what is needed to afford the basic cost of living.”
Food bank use is 1.3 per cent higher than in 2014, and 26 per cent higher than in 2008, when the economic downturn started.
This means 175,000 more people each month are seeking assistance, compared to 2008.
More than 4,000 food programs participated in the study.
An estimated 13,000 people visit the Mississauga Food Bank monthly, with more than 112,000 residents living below the poverty line, according to the MFB’s most recent Face of Hunger report.
The percentage of food bank clients who 65-years-old or older has grown to 7 per cent from 5 per cent in the last year.
The number has also risen for post-secondary students, to 8 per cent from 7 per cent.
The MFB provides food for more than 183,000 meals each month; fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products make up half.
Canned items – fish, meat, vegetables, fruit – along with peanut butter, rice, and canned/dried beans are topping the wish list.
“The reality that one in six children live with food insecurity is inconceivable in a country with as much abundance as Canada,” said senior VP of sustainability and public affairs Lynda Kuhn.