Children biggest users of P.E.I. food banks

Children are by far the people most dependent on food banks on P.E.I., according to the Hunger Count report released by Food Banks Canada Tuesday.

About one in six food bank clients on P.E.I. have a job

P.E.I. food banks saw an increase in users this year. (CBC)

Children are by far the people most dependent on food banks on P.E.I., according to the Hunger Count report released by Food Banks Canada Tuesday.

Children are over-represented at the food bank at a rate of almost twice their proportion of the overall population. On P.E.I., 19.1 per cent of the population is under the age of 18, but 35.5 per cent of food bank users are under 18.

(Google/CBC)

Generally speaking, the older you are the less likely you are to be using a food bank on P.E.I.

Food bank use up

The number of people using the food bank rose last year.

People are working but can't put food on the table.- Marzena Gersho, Food Banks Canada

The Hunger Count report uses March as a benchmark, and P.E.I. food banks reported 3,370 clients in that month this year, a 6.9 per cent increase over the 3,153 in March of 2015.

Nationally the number of clients rose 1.3 per cent last year.

That does not reflect a wide degree of differences from province to province. In Nova Scotia the number of clients rose 20.9 per cent, while in Ontario it fell 6.4 per cent.

A job is no guarantee

About one in six food bank clients on P.E.I. had a job, and another one in eight were receiving a pension of some kind.

"[That's] really the sad part, that people are working but can't put food on the table," said Marzena Gersho, director of communications at Food Banks Canada.

"There's still a shortage of full-time work. It really comes down to employment, and being able to make enough money. That's what's really giving everyone the greatest challenge."

Gersho added that in general social assistance payments are too low to cover both food and shelter. People on social assistance made up the largest number of people who were food bank clients, 37.8 per cent.

Gersho said Food Banks Canada would like to see Canada change from a social assistance model of support to a basic income model.

P.E.I. close to national trends

While the Island had a higher increase in usage this year than the country as a whole, in some ways the province is following closely what is happening nationally.

Percent of food bank clients who are children is close to the national rate of 35.6.

The percentage of the population using the food bank is similar: 2.4 per cent in Canada and 2.29 per cent in P.E.I.

Both Canada and P.E.I. have also seen significant increases since 2008, with P.E.I. up 16.5 per cent and Canada up 27.8 per cent. In both places most of that increase came between 2008 and 2012, with rates of food bank use levelling off somewhat since.

About the Author

Kevin Yarr

Kevin Yarr is the early morning web journalist at CBC P.E.I. You can reach him at kevin.yarr@cbc.ca.