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Food bank need grows across Canada

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More than 790,000 Canadians walked into a food bank in March, an increase of 18 per cent over the previous year according to a new report on hunger and food bank use in Canada.

Alberta, Nova Scotia and Ontario recorded the highest increases.

More than 72,000 people visited a food bank for the first time in their lives. Thirty-seven percent of those helped are children; half of the households are families with children.

“Though the majority of households turning to food banks count pensions, disability-related income supports, and social assistance as their primary source of income, one-fifth are in the labour force and still unable to make ends meet,” said the report.

HungerCount 2009 said well-paying jobs have been replaced with ones that pay significantly less and offer few benefits.

“A large percentage of those assisted by food banks are forced to ask for help because their pension, disability-related income supports, or social assistance benefits provide too little to afford even the bare essentials.”

At the same time, food banks reported that they’re grappling with inadequate funding and food supplies.

“In Ontario, we have witnessed an overall decline in food donations this year, in part due to the closure of more than 10 major food manufacturers – who have suffered the same hardships as the province’s manufacturing sector overall – in the past 18 months,” said the report.

“In total, we estimate that food donations in the province have declined by about one million pounds.”

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