Feeding the hungry

Feeding the hungry

Canada is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but the use of food banks grew by 2.4 per cent in 2012, compared to 2011, according to a national food bank survey.

This year, CBC's Live Right Now has a goal of feeding up to 100,000 people. With the generous support of our sponsors, President's Choice and Dairy Farmers of Canada, a donation will be made to Food Banks Canada.


882,188 people turned to food banks in March 2012

7% of people who used food banks lived on pension income

38% turning to food banks are children and youth

11% of people assisted are Aboriginal

25% of households assisted by food banks are single-parent families

55% of food banks had to cut back the amount of food provided to each household

[Source: HungerCount 2012]

Live Right Now spoke to Marzena Gersho, director of communications and national programs at Food Banks Canada, to find out how this contribution will help feed the hungry.

"A large portion of those donated funds will help to support the national food sharing system - which is a program developed by Food Banks Canada - where we acquire large-scale food donations which we distribute across the country," says Gersho.

The food is delivered to communities where it is distributed locally through various hamper, soup kitchen and other food programs, according to Gersho.

The hunger problem

Canada may be one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but there is a hunger problem in this country, says Gersho. She cites a hunger survey done every year by Food Banks Canada which measures levels of food bank usage across the country.

Last year, she says, more than 880,000 individuals used food banks in just one month, a 31 per cent increase since the 2008 recession. It's the highest level of food bank usage since 1997, when the organization first started its annual HungerCount survey.

Number of food banks

"The food bank is often the organization that's acquiring food and distributing to agencies throughout the community," Gersho says.

There are more than 800 food banks across the country who support more than 3,000 agencies such as soup kitchens or hamper programs, according to Gersho

Who uses food banks?

"Close to 17 to 18 per cent of those who use food banks are actually employed or recently employed," Gersho says. "They're working but not making enough."

According to the 2012 survey, 38 per cent of kids and youth are also turning to food banks for help.

Through good times and bad, significant data have found the total number of Canadians being helped by food banks has not fallen below 700,000 in a decade, according to Gersho.

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