It’s a sad statistic for a wealthy country: over 850,000 people access a food bank in Canada every month and one in five people will use a food bank at some point during their lifetime.
Every year in March Food Banks Canada releases its annual “HungerCount.” It is an annual reading of the temperature of thousands of communities across Canada and provides a snapshot of food bank use in Canada. It also provides insights into what is happening on the ground, with the data and information that is available.
This year’s HungerCount found that food bank usage has stabilized, down one percent from 2018, but those visits still add up to over one million people. And, a disturbingly high number of food bank users are children. In B.C., 38,074 food bank recipients were children.
Food insecurity is one of the main concerns of Food Banks Canada. According to the Canadian Community Health Survey, the survey instrument that monitors food insecurity in Canada, definitions of food insecurity include everything from worrying about running out of food, to reducing food intake and going days without food due to lack of money.
The most recent results from the Canadian Community Health Survey show that 12 per cent, or about 1 in 8, households in Canada experienced food insecurity the previous 12 months. Food insecurity can be experienced by anyone, regardless if income comes from pensions, employment, or social assistance. The common factor that drives food insecurity in Canada is low income.
Our local food bank is delivered by a cohort of dedicated volunteers who administer the food through a grant funneled through the Bella Coola Community Support Society. They also rely on cash and food donations from local people and businesses, including the drop box at Hagensborg Shop Easy and the “Toonie at the Till” program.
“The food bank is administered once a month, usually the third Tuesday, in the basement of the Co-op,” said longtime volunteer Marietta Hans. “If people are interested in helping out or donating we can be contacted through the Community Support Society.”