A new survey reveals that food banks across the country are expecting to see visits increase by 60% this year following a surge in demand in 2022.
The Toronto-based organization Second Harvest polled over 1,300 Canadian charities on their outlooks for 2023.
Last year Canada saw an uptick of 134% growth when it came to Canadians visiting food banks.
“It is a new year, but there is no resolution in sight for Canada’s food insecurity problem,” said Second Harvest CEO Lori Nikkel in a press release.
“The end of Covid supports, food inflation and flat wages are all contributing to increased reliance on food charity. Without systemic change, food insecurity will only get worse in Canada.”
To meet the increased demand, 39% of charities polled say they will need a 50% growth in perishable food this year while 44% said they need the same growth in non-perishable items.
A vast majority of charities (70%) said they need both food donations and funding to maintain their operations.
“In the short-term, (non-profits) need financial support because surging demand is outpacing supply,” said Suman Roy, CEO of the Scarborough Food Security Initiative.
According to Nikkel, while food charities are crucial in helping Canadians when times are tough, change needs to come at the policy level.
“More charitable food programs will not decrease food insecurity in Canada. More food charity is only treating the problem, not finding a solution,” said Nikkel.
“In the long-term, individuals need government support like income regulation that’s indexed to inflation and solutions for affordable housing so that non-profit food programs are not needed in the first place.”
Food bank operators across the country are telling Canadians to expect the worst when it comes to trends.
“We haven’t seen the worst of it,” said executive director of Helping Hand Food Bank in Bradford, Ontario.
“January and February will be hard. All the social services will see an increase in need. I think this is because the cost of food is exorbitant.”