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Alarming trend as local food banks struggle to keep up with surging demand


Officials at the food bank in Orangeville say numbers have hit a critical point as a new report uncovers crises affecting hundreds of thousands across the province.

Feed Ontario released its findings on the situation at food banks, analyzing usage in 2023 compared to 2022 and previous years, with advocates calling the situation grim as food banks record a growth in demand unlike ever before.

"Thirty-seven per cent of the people accessing our foodbank are children, 10.4 per cent are actually working, and a stat we are really disturbed by and 15 per cent are actually seniors," said Heather Hayes, the executive director at the Orangeville food bank.

The Feed Ontario report documents similar figures, showing a jump in food bank usage by nearly 40 per cent, with 800,000 individuals seeking support from food banks this year alone, resulting in 5.8 million visits.

"Seventy per cent of food banks in our network are concerned about having to meet this demand, and more than half are worried they may not have enough funding to sustain services, so we need to start turning the tide on food insecurity in this province," said Carolyn Stewart, CEO with Feed Ontario.

The message is the same at the Barrie Food Bank, as more people seek support - but questions remain on how to keep up with demand.

"Food banks are not a solution to long-term problems. We are a Band-Aid. We are helping people get by on a day-to-day basis and hopefully settling them up so we can take action in their own lives," said Sharon Palmer, Barrie Food Bank executive director.

The report also made recommendations for the provincial and federal government, including changes to EI eligibility, increasing timelines for affordable housing projects and expediting the development of the Canadian disability benefit. Top Stories

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