Hunger Count 2013

By the Numbers –Year End 2012 – Waterloo Region

·          91,233 emergency hampers distributed in Waterloo Region

·          35,445 different individuals were served in 2012 across Waterloo Region

·          36% were children

By the Numbers – Hungercount 2013 & Year End 2012 – Food Bank of Waterloo Region:

28,213 accessed emergency food assistance from member agencies of The Food Bank of Waterloo Region. This represents a 5% increase in service compared to 2011. 79,227 hampers were provided to 61,416 households.

504, 041 meals were served by Food Bank of Waterloo Region agencies, which is a 12% increase in meals provided in our community compared to 2011.

Residents of our community from many different backgrounds rely on the support of emergency food assistance. 16% of those who rely on emergency assistance are the working poor. Others acquire their primary income from Ontario Works (39%), Ontario Disability Support (24%), Pension (5%), Student Loans (1%), Disability (1%), while 11% have no income and 3% of participant’s income is unknown.

47% of households needing help are families with children (single parent 32%, two parent 15%). Couples without children (18%) and single individuals (27%) also access emergency food assistance.

The majority of individuals rent their housing either private rent (75%) or public rent (23%), while some own their own home (1%) or are currently staying with family or friends (1%). 

What the Numbers are telling us in Waterloo Region:

·       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 high even though the recession has officially ended. In some areas there has been a 5% increase in individuals in our community accessing emergency assistance.

·       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 32% are single parent families and 15% are two parent families.

·       More residents in our community are accessing a hot meal. This reflects a 12% increase in meals from 2011 and an over 30% increase in meals since 2008. Through the dedicated work of our network partners members of our community can access a meal 7 days a week.

·       The increase in meals being provided in the community reflects a recent report released from the Region of Waterloo,Homelessness to Housing Stability 2012 Data Summary Report. There has been a 24% increase in the number of people accessing emergency shelters. People who utilize shelters are accessing them more frequently and staying longer. Sadly there has also been an increase in the number of families accessing emergency shelter has grown 229% from 65 families in 2008 to 214 families in 2012. We are proud to support a number of emergency shelters in our community that provide a place for the members of our community to place their head.

·       In an effort to ensure all members of our community have access to emergency food assistance we have added new programs to address gaps in service in underserviced areas this may account for some of the 5% increase this year. Food Bank of Waterloo Region has also begun to support agencies that have been independent in the past, but now require more food to deliver their programing and are accessing food from the food bank for the first time. Changing trends in donations have meant that a number of small programs no longer have access to old donation sources.

·       In 2013 there have been a number of layoff announcements within Waterloo Region. The effects of a recession or layoffs do not immediately result in an increase in food bank usage. We know that once individuals have utilized all of their emergency savings the need within in the community will continue to grow. This means that in the future more of our neighbours will need the help of the emergency food assistance network. We are working to make sure that help will be there when it is needed. 

·       Emergency Food Distribution is an important part of our work and the focus of our agencies, but it is also about building relationships with the families we serve. Getting to know them and where they are at, to understand what additional services they need, whether it is healthy eating or budgeting classes or employment services so they receive a hand up and not a hand out.

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. 

·       The community continues to support the work we do with donations of food and funds. Our fall food drives were successful and we appreciate those who were able to give whatever they could 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.

·       We support the efforts of the Region of Waterloo in their efforts to address homelessness and increase the amount of affordable housing available in Waterloo Region. We look forward to the progress that will be made with the Affordable Housing Strategy from 2014 to 2019 as Waterloo Region continues to address this growing need in our community.

·       The Food Bank of Waterloo Region and our agencies partners will continue to work closely with the Regional Staff to develop proactive and innovative solutions to the provincial cuts to discretionary benefits and Community Start-up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB).

·       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.

To see Hunger Count archives from 2006-2012, please click here.