Canadian Association of Food Banks

Canadian Association of Food Banks

November 28, 2006 11:00 ET

Canadian Association of Food Banks: More Working Poor Relying on Food Banks Despite an 8.5% Drop in Overall Use, National Study Shows.

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 28, 2006) - Even with employment, Canadians are struggling to stay above the poverty line and are increasingly turning to food banks to make ends meet, according to HungerCount 2006, the latest Canadian Association of Food Banks (CAFB) study.

Charles Seiden, CAFB Executive Director, says the annual study shows the percentage of food bank clients who are part of Canada's workforce this year is 13.4 per cent, up from 13.1 per cent last year. "This increase has occurred despite a welcome 8.5 per cent drop in overall food bank use," he says. "However, food bank use has risen 99 per cent since 1989, when the first food bank study was conducted. At the same time, there has been a 9 per cent increase in the number of prepared meals served since last year."

According to the survey, employed individuals continue to comprise the second largest group of food bank clients after social assistance recipients, which account for 53.5 per cent of food bank clients nationally.

"Low wages may be only one of several factors contributing to the working poor phenomenon in Canada," says Seiden. "But the fact that real wages in the country have not improved over the past several years tells us that our leaders have neglected the country's labour rights and standards."

The study also showed children account for 41 per cent of the estimated 753,458 food bank clients, although they make up only about a quarter of Canada's population.

A closer look at the drop in food bank recipients reveals that despite the overall decrease in food bank use, some food banks report that the same clients need to be served more often.

Based on these disturbing findings in the report, the CAFB is asking government to make work 'work' and to develop a mix of concrete policies to address two major areas: income/employment security and family needs such as housing and daycare.

"The continued presence of food banks in communities throughout the country is evidence that hunger is real. It demonstrates a continued lack of government commitment to finding lasting solutions to the problem of hunger," says Seiden.

"Food banks have become the predominant response to the problem of hunger. Governments at all levels must develop a common strategy and a more comprehensive approach to end hunger by improving incomes, health, housing and education to help improving the quality of life for those in our communities who may need a hand up instead of a hand out," states Wayne Hellquist, Chair of the CAFB's Board of Directors.

CAFB's network of regional and community food banks, including provincial associations and food distribution centres serving 90 per cent of the people who use emergency food programs in Canada, continue to face pressure to meet the demand. Nearly 34.5 per cent of food banks that took part in the study reported having difficulty meeting the continued high demand for food.

HungerCount collects data every March, which is considered an unexceptional month, and is Canada's only annual national survey of food banks and emergency food bank programs. It has been conducted annually since 1997.

For a complete version of HungerCount 2006, please visit:

Founded in 1985, the Canadian Association of Food Banks is the national umbrella organization representing a network of regional and community food banks, including provincial associations and food distribution centres. In 2005, the CAFB moved over 10 million pounds of food industry donations to its members through the National Food Sharing System, with a dollar value equivalent of $20 million. In addition to food received from the CAFB, community-run food banks rely primarily on volunteers to collect and distribute an estimated 150 million pounds of food per year. CAFB conducts research, engages in public education and advocates for public policy change to eliminate the causes of hunger and food insecurity in Canada. Although CAFB provides food daily for people in need, its ultimate goal is a hunger-free Canada.

Charitable Registration# 1364 3737 RR0001

Contact Information

  • Canadian Association of Food Banks (CAFB)
    Charles Seiden
    (416) 203-9241 or Cell: (416) 817-9342
    (416) 203-9244 (FAX)
    Canadian Association of Food Banks (CAFB)
    Wayne Hellquist
    Cell: (306) 539-3699
    Canadian Association of Food Banks (CAFB)
    Micky Fraterman
    (416) 203-9241 x28 or Cell: (416) 347-0571
    (416) 203-9244 (FAX)