More seniors relying on Sudbury Food Bank as housing costs eat up budget

Seniors in Greater Sudbury are no exception results from a new report that finds more seniors are seeking assistance from food banks over the past year. The Ontario Association of Food Banks released its hunger report on Monday.

Ontario Association of Food Banks report notes a 10 per cent increase in seniors using food bank services

The Sudbury Food Bank warehouse fills up with goods where volunteers sort them for pick up. (Kate Rutherford/CBC)

Seniors in Greater Sudbury are no exception to findings from a new report that shows more older people have been seeking assistance at food banks over the last year.

The results are from the 2018 Hunger Report released Monday by the Ontario Association of Food Banks.

The report notes a 10 per cent increase in seniors using food banks compared to past years, and the association expects the trend to worsen.

The executive director of the Sudbury Food Bank, Dan Xilon, says that's quite possible, because as older adults retire, there will be more of a demand.

"The baby boomers are just starting into retirement now," he says.

"If more of the population is going to be seniors than that's going to be working, you can see where there's going to be a challenge there for sure. We're just at the start of it."

Dan Xilon is the Executive Director of the Sudbury Food Bank (Kirthana Sasitharan (CBC))

The association's report states that a lack of financial supports and higher housing costs are to blame for the increase in food bank use.

The 2018 report reveals that supports such as CPP, Old Age Security, and even pension plans are not enough to help.

Xilon says he sees that happening as well in Sudbury.

"Basically the food bank and any other system you have is a symptom of the problem of not enough housing. I think what we've got to focus in on, is enough secure housing for everyone," he says.

Tammy Tucker is the kitchen manager at the Parkside Older Adult Centre in Sudbury (Kirthana Sasitharan (CBC))

Meantime, the kitchen manager at the Parkside Older Adult Centre in downtown Sudbury, Tammy Tucker says her mother struggled to pay for groceries after paying all her other bills.

The centre provides hot meals at a reduced price to members.

Tucker says escalating costs can take chunks out of a senior's fixed budget.

"My mom was on $1,800 a month," she says.

"When she was paid she was on dialysis, she had to pay for handi-transit, she paid me a little bit for helping her to get to places and everything. So she had a hundred dollars to live off of for groceries."

The Ontario Food Bank Association is pushing for the return of the province's basic income pilot, and is urging the federal government to get involved.

with files from Kirthana Sasitharan