Food for Thought Blog

Hunger Action Month!

September 1st, 2023Awareness

September is Hunger Action Month—a nationwide awareness campaign that draws attention to hunger in our communities and encourages each one of us to take action in four ways: Donate, Volunteer, Educate, and Advocate.

This month, The Food Bank of Waterloo Region is joining food banks across the province to amplify our collective voice and advocate for solutions to end food insecurity and poverty in Ontario. 

We encourage you to follow the campaign hashtag #HungerActionMonth and join the conversation on social media.

Did you know?

In Ontario, 59 per cent of food bank visitors rely on Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program payments. And in Waterloo region, 21 per cent of food bank visitors rely on Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program payments.

It’s clear the system isn’t working. Here’s why:

  • Ontario’s social assistance programs have high financial penalties, or clawbacks, on the income of recipients who are working or receiving other benefits they are owed. Combined with very low rates, this creates a poverty trap and makes it harder for recipients to establish the financial foundation needed to move out of poverty.
  • Currently, Ontario Works recipients who are working can only keep their first $200 earned. Every dollar above is clawed back by 50 cents, acting as an additional high tax that disincentivizes earning more. Feed Ontario recommends aligning these rules to match the Ontario Disability Support Program, which allows recipients to keep the first $1,000 earned without penalty.
  • Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program recipients who are owed payments from Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan, and Workplace Safety and Insurance Board see these payments clawed back 100 per cent. This prevents recipients from benefiting from all the supports that are available to them and ultimately, accessing the income needed for their basic needs. Feed Ontario recommends exempting these benefits from clawbacks, as well as the upcoming Canada Disability Benefit.

Recommendations for change

Food banks and food assistance programs provide help during times of crisis but aren’t designed to subsidize the gaps in Ontario’s social safety net.

Together with Feed Ontario, The Food Bank of Waterloo Region calls on the Ontario government to take immediate steps to improve income security and affordability by improving the quality of work in Ontario, increase social assistance rates to a basic standard of living, make housing affordable by investing in new and renovated affordable housing initiatives, and include people with lived experience in the design and development of programs and policies.

How you can help The Food Bank of Waterloo Region end hunger

Although September is dedicated to taking action, it will take our collective effort every day to create a future without hunger. Will you join us in making a difference?

Donate: For those who can afford to give, non-perishable food and financial donations are greatly appreciated. Drop off a non-perishable food item to any grocery store in Kitchener-Waterloo or donate online. Every $1 donated to The Food Bank of Waterloo Region can help provide 2 meals for someone facing hunger.

Volunteer: Support The Food Bank of Waterloo Region by giving your time. Learn more about our volunteer opportunities.

Educate: Use Feed Ontario’s Hunger in My Riding online tool to calculate the impact hunger has in your community and share it with your member of provincial parliament. Note: Hunger in My Riding uses data from January 1 to December 31, 2021. It will be updated to the 2022 calendar year by mid-September 2023.

Advocate: Fill out a digital postcard to share how government policies impact people in your community. This year’s postcard campaign focuses on urging provincially elected officials to Stop the Clawbacks for social assistance recipients on earned income and benefits.