By the Numbers -Year End 2014 - Waterloo Region:
88,613 emergency hampers distributed in Waterloo Region
33723 different individuals were served in 2014 across Waterloo Region
574,731 meals served in 2014 in Waterloo Region
By the Numbers - Hungercount 2015 & Year End 2014 - Food Bank of Waterloo Region:
27,079 of our neighbours accessed emergency food assistance from member agencies of The Food Bank of Waterloo Region. 77,415 hampers were distributed to 61,697 households in 2014.
Through the dedicated work of our network partners members of our community can access a meal 7 days a week. 434,510 meals were served in 2014 by Food Bank of Waterloo Region member agencies.
Residents of our community from many different backgrounds rely on the support of emergency food assistance. 18% of those who rely on emergency assistance are the working poor, this includes those who are working full-time, part-time or are receiving employment insurance. Others acquire their primary income from Ontario Works (36%), Ontario Disability Support (28%), Pension (7%), Student Loans (2%), Disability (1%), while 6% have no income and 2% of participant's income is unknown.
Hunger continues to affect those who are most vulnerable in our community. 36% of those who access emergency food are children. Of the households that access emergency food assistance 28% are single parent families and 21% are two parent families. Other households accessing food assistance are couples without children (8%) and single individuals (43%).
The majority of individuals who access emergency food assistance rent their housing either private rent (78%) or public rent (14%), while some own their own home (6%) or are currently staying with family or friends (1%).
What the Numbers are telling us in Waterloo Region:
The snapshot in Waterloo Region is no different than the rest of the country - thousands of our neighbours continue to struggle with hunger, and supports from food programs (emergency hampers, community meals, shelters, residential programs) remains unacceptably high even though the recession has officially ended. Since 2008 there has been 30% increase in emergency food hamper requests in Waterloo Region.
We need to encourage governments locally, provincially and federally to act to address this problem by:
- Investing in affordable housing
- Helping Canadians with low levels of literacy to upgrade their skills for the jobs of today
- Replacing provincial-territorial social assistance with a basic income
- Addressing the extremely high levels of food insecurity in Canada's North
- The recent Nutritious Food Basket Report illustrated that low income households pay a far greater percentage of their wage on rent than those receiving a median income. A single person on Ontario Works spends 94% of their income on rent. The majority of the 33,723 individuals that received food assistance in Waterloo Region live in rental properties.
Many families who access emergency food assistance are unable to pay the bills despite working full time and are struggling to get back on their feet with inadequate income and training supports.
Children continue to make up a large proportion of people helped by food banks. Children represent 36% of those accessing emergency food programs.
Food Assistance is an important part of the social safety net in our community. Hamper and meal programs provide a vital service to those in our community. We are proud that in Waterloo Region we believe that food is a right.
What can we do - what will make a difference?
What these numbers tell us is that we continue to need these essential community supports (community programs supported by Food Banks) to feed people, some for the short term, some for the long term.
We all wish that there wasn't a need for food banks in our community and that no one had to experience hunger, but unfortunately the need continues. People need food without judgment and they need it year-round. Let's make a commitment to keep the kindness going year round.
The community continues to support the work we do with donations of food and funds. Our needs are year round and we appreciate those who were able to give whatever they could, no matter how small, to support those who are hungry in our community. Due to this generosity we are in a good position to meet the growing needs of food programs in the community.
Working with Food Banks Canada we support recommendations at a provincial and national level that will help people in our community build self-sufficiency - those who need help in the short-term and dignified support for those who need assistance over longer periods.
Together as a Food Assistance Network in Waterloo Region - The Food Bank of Waterloo Region, The Cambridge Self Help Food Bank and over 100 community programs will continue to improve efficiency, effectiveness and quality of service to meet the basic and emergency food needs of close to different people in our communities. We will work as a network to enhance community development programs to help individuals and families learn skills and gain additional supports to improve their quality of life. We will work together to ensure that no one goes hungry.
To see Hunger Count archives from 2006-2012, please click here.