More people are using food banks in Thunder Bay compared to last year, according to a report released Tuesday by Food Banks Canada.
The head of the Regional Food Distribution Association said he's worried about how much people in the city depend on food banks to survive and said the evidence is in the number of repeat clients.
- Increase federal investment in affordable housing, so that people are not forced to choose between paying rent or buying food.
- Establish a Northern Food Security Innovation Fund, comprehensive territorial school breakfast programs, and new community infrastructure, to help address the incredibly high levels of household food insecurity in the territories.
- Improve the Guaranteed Income Supplement so that no senior falls below the poverty line.
- At the provincial government level, make significant changes to social assistance, so that the program helps people to live with dignity and get back on their feet.
- Increase the value, and broaden eligibility for the Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB), and increase investment in education and training for the hundreds of thousands of unemployed people in Canada who are not able to access Employment Insurance benefits.
Source: executive summary Hunger Count 2012
"Unfortunately, the poor are getting poorer," said Volker Kromm.
"So we've had a huge spike — a 200 per cent increase — in the number of people who have come repeatedly over the course of a month so that's the really scary part."
Kromm said food banks were created for emergency use, not regular use.
The Food Banks Canada Hunger Count 2012 report said more Canadians than ever are using food banks. Its authors called on the federal and provincial government to address the bigger factors behind hunger, such as providing affordable housing and making sure seniors don't fall into poverty.
"Some of the food banks have been telling me that they see a lot of elderly faces," Kromm said.
"[I’m told] their pension cheques don't reach … so they're forced to come back and use those services. And that doesn't speak well of our pension system."
Improving access to food in First Nation communities should also be a priority, Kromm added.