New Brunswick

'Unacceptable' number of Canadians use food banks, says Food Banks Canada

An organization that helps Canadian food banks is sounding alarms over the number of people using the service.

New Brunswick food banks registered 20,627 visits in one month last year

Across the country, there were 1,096,935 visits to food banks last March, a number Food Banks Canada's Kirstin Beardsley calls 'unacceptable.' (Angela Bosse/CBC)

An organization that helps Canadian food banks is sounding alarms over the number of people using the service.

Food Banks Canada's "Hunger Count 2018" tracked food bank use for one month, March 2018.  

"We do a census-style count of those that are using food banks all across the country," said Kirstin Beardsley, chief networks services officer with Food Banks Canada .

Food banks across the country recorded a total of 1,096,935 last March. 

It's not possible to compare numbers to the previous year because Food Banks Canada has changed its methodology, but Beardsley said the numbers aren't good.

"This is just an unacceptable number," she said. "It's just a shocking number and it has to go down."

In total, there were 20,627 visits to food banks in New Brunswick, including 7,939 in rural areas.

Demographics

The number of people who are using food banks in Canada tells a sad story of how things are in the country right now, said Kirstin Beardsley from Food Banks Canada. 1:00

Children made up 6,565 of the visits in the province, or 31.5 per cent.

Single adults used food banks the most, at 46.3 per cent of visits, followed by two-parent families at 17.5 per cent and single-parent families at 17 per cent.

Beardsley said the visits by single adults and children are disproportionate to their share of the provincial population.

New Brunswick food banks record a total of 20,627 visits, 7,939 in rural areas. (Angela Bosse/CBC)

Nationally, 35.2 per cent of people relying on food banks are children, while they only represent 20 per cent of the total population.

"It's a sad story of how things are in Canada right now," Beardsley said.

For 61 per cent of households using food banks in New Brunswick, social assistance is the primary source of income. For 9.1. per cent, jobs are the main source of income, and for 7.4 per cent, pensions are the main source.

In all, New Brunswick food banks provided the equivalent of 82,860 meals and snacks last March.

Basic income

Food banks can spend their money more efficiently than the average shopper, meaning they can buy more (and the right kinds) of food when they need it most. 1:58

Beardsley said a growing use of food banks is directly related to poverty, which in turn is directly related to low wages.

This is why Food Banks Canada has recommended a basic income.

Single adults used food banks the most at 46.3 per cent of visits, followed by two-parent families at 17.5 per cent and single-parent families at 17 per cent. (Food Banks Canada)

"Piloting different basic income projects across the country so we have evidence for what works and so we can build some public policy positions on that," Beardsley.

Other recommendations include standardizing early learning and child care as well as increased support for single adults.

With files from Information Morning Fredericton and Information Morning Moncton