"The face of hunger is changing," says Sharon Lee, Executive Director, Ontario Association of Food Banks. "We have seen a very concerning spike in the number of senior citizens accessing food banks, as well as single-person households—and believe that these demographic changes are reflective of a lack of affordable housing in our province, insufficient social assistance and senior-citizen-support programs, and the precarious nature of employment in Ontario."
"Every day there are adults and children in our province who are forced to choose between their most basic needs, like paying the rent or purchasing food," she adds. "The 2015 Hunger Report illustrates this, and reveals that these individuals are often not who you think."
The report shows that food-bank use in Ontario remains 14 percent higher than pre-recession numbers, with almost 45,000 more adults and children accessing food banks each month than in 2008.
Across Canada, food-bank use is 26 percent higher than pre-recession numbers.
The report reveals that 12 percent of all senior citizens now fall below Ontario's Low-Income Measure, with this number more than doubling, to 27 percent, among seniors who also identify as single. Aging seniors will represent 23 percent of the population by 2030.
The Hunger Report calls for the Ontario government to implement policies that address the root causes of hunger, including affordable housing, improvements to social assistance, and secure employment.
"It’s only through good public policy that we will be able to break the cycle of poverty in Ontario," says Lee. "In the meantime, food banks will continue to provide an essential service to those who need our help."