Feed Ontario released its 2020 Hunger Report this week, revealing that even prior to COVID-19, food bank use was on the rise. The pandemic has had a significant effect on all local residents and families, including people who were once in a fairly strong financial situation now, having used up their savings, sold assets, borrowed from friends and family and maxed out credit cards, need help and support. The Burlington Food Bank is receiving requests for food from residents that used to donate to the Food Bank and now they need assistance. See Feed Ontario’s Hunger Report 2020 Highlights here: https://feedontario.ca/hunger-report-2020 .
The Burlington Food Bank is Feed Ontario’s direct member food bank for Burlington and provided ongoing food bank use data to help inform this report. In the year leading up to the onset of COVID-19, the Burlington Food Bank served over 1900 people from approximately 850 households who visited more than 4400 times.
“Throughout 2019 and the early part of 2020 the Burlington Food Bank saw a steady increase of about 15% in the number of households using our service. Approximately 40% of our clients during that time were new users of our Food Bank.” said Robin Bailey, Executive Director, Burlington Food Bank.
“The pandemic has had a significant effect on all of us, it is difficult to hear that people that were once in a fairly strong financial situation had now used up their savings, sold assets, borrowed from friends and family and maxed out credit cards. We are receiving requests for food from Burlington residents that used to donate to the Food Bank and now they need our help.” Baily added
The 2020 Hunger Report identifies that while government benefits and support programs played a significant role in helping food banks to meet surging demand with the onset of COVID-19, there is significant concern as these supports wind down, particularly heading into the cold winter months.
“Here in Burlington, we have seen use of our service increasing again over the last couple of months. We have had a few ‘record breaking’ days for us at the Food Bank, this is something we are quite concerned about as we know the need is greater than we are serving. We have a very supportive community, and we are able to keep up with the demand, we want to make sure that people that haven’t contacted us and could use the help know that their community is here to support them in this difficult time.” — Robin Bailey, Executive Director, Burlington Food Bank
The 2020 Hunger Report also includes a special feature on the impact of COVID-19 on food bank use and vulnerable populations across the province. The Burlington Food Bank was one of five food banks selected to facilitate this survey for the report and interviewed food bank visitors, who participated on a voluntary basis, on the impact that the pandemic is having on their daily lives.
Feed Ontario is calling on the Government of Ontario to provide immediate support to low-income families impacted by the pandemic, including the development of a rent relief or payment program for tenants facing rent arrears or eviction due to COVID-19, as well as the reinstatement of the Emergency Benefit for social assistance recipients.
Further, Feed Ontario is calling on the provincial government to align Ontario’s social assistance rates with the national standard set by CERB, and to invest in strengthening the workforce by developing strong labour laws and policies that benefit hard-working people, including the reinstatement of paid sick days and quality job opportunities that provide a livable wage.