A Toronto food bank is launching an urgent appeal after seeing a sharp increase in the number of clients accessing its services.
The Daily Bread Food Bank says more than 274,000 visits were made to its 128 member food banks in August alone, double the number of visits during the same period last year.
“To put it in perspective, before the pandemic, we were getting about 65,000 visits a month… so visits have even quadrupled since then,” said Talia Bronstein, vice president of research and advocacy at Daily Bread Food Bank .
As we head into the Thanksgiving season, the Food Bank is appealing to help raise $3.8 million and 227,000 pounds of food by the end of October.
“We really hope that we never have to turn anyone away, because food is a human right,” Bronstein said.
It seems that hunger is felt across the country this year.
The CEO of Food Banks Canada says no region of the country has seen a decline or stagnation in food insecurity, with 1.5 million visits made each month to food banks across the country.
“We continue to sound the alarm that we have reached the highest level of food bank use in our history in Canada and we continue to break that record,” said Kirsten Beardsley.
“It’s not a record to celebrate.”
Even though many have put the COVID-19 pandemic behind them, Beardsley says the problems exacerbated by the pandemic never went away.
“It’s a good reminder to people that food insecurity isn’t really about food. It’s about money,” she said.
“What we’re seeing is people are really struggling to make ends meet. We have people on low incomes, people on social a*sistance or disability support benefits. But on the other side of the equation, which is really driving the need right now, we have high costs.
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Beardsley stresses that solutions must come from addressing the root causes of food insecurity, calling on governments to act on affordable housing and fixing the “outdated” unemployment insurance system.
Until then, Beardsley says food banks remain a critical safety net that keeps hundreds of thousands of people from going hungry.
Back in Toronto, the Daily Bread Food Bank is preparing to tackle holiday hunger.
Representatives gathered at Toronto Fire Station 426 on Thursday to launch Daily Bread’s annual Thank You campaign, in partnership with Purolator.
Purolator will relaunch its Toronto Red Bags campaign, distributing 25,000 bags in 10 neighborhoods this Saturday.
Residents are encouraged to fill bags with non-perishable food items and drop them off at any city fire station, or wait for them to be picked up at their door on September 30.
Monetary donations can also be made on the Daily Bread website.
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