About

Hunger in Waterloo region

There’s no typical food bank recipient and there are many reasons a person may access emergency food assistance, such as sudden job loss, low income, the rising cost of food, and/or lack of affordable housing. Food insecurity is a complex problem and the solutions are complicated.

1 in 10 households in Waterloo region struggle to afford to put food on the table. That number is up from 1 in 14 households. Last year, the Community Food Assistance Network supported 58,688 individuals in need. 

Thanks to you, our caring community, the Network can provide access and connection to food and other essential services and resources that help people move forward with their lives.

the need: What we’re seeing in Waterloo region

Between July 1 and September 30, 2023:

  • 4,629 households accessed a food assistance program for the first time, a 256% increase over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 13,470 unique households accessed a food assistance program, a 38% increase over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 33,480 unique individuals supported by the Community Food Assistance Network, a 29% increase over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 39,873 hampers distributed to community members, a 21% increase over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 300,068 meals provided to community members, a 61% increase over the same quarter in 2022.

Participant demographics

Between July 1 and September 30, 2023:

Family composition

Families of all shapes and sizes depend on food assistance.

  • 6,376 individuals were a single person household, a 45% increase over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 2,317 individuals were a two-parent household with children, a 16% increase over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 1,738 individuals were a single parent household with children, a 12% increase over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 779 individuals were a couple household with no children, a 5% increase over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 3,089 individuals didn’t indicate family composition. This group represents a 22% increase over the same quarter in 2022.

Ages

  • 12,032 children were between 0 and 17 years old, a 14% increase over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 1,313 seniors were aged 65 and older, a 16% increase over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 17,893 adults were aged 18 and older, a 36% increase over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 5,046 individuals didn’t indicate family composition. This group represents a 7% increase over the same quarter in 2022.

Housing

  • 6,832 unique households lived in a private rental, a 27% increase over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 720 unique households lived in social housing, a 19% decrease over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 419 unique households were homeowners, a 3% increase over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 232 unique households lived with family or friends, a 25% increase over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 142 unique households lived in an emergency shelter or were homeless, a 38% increase over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 132 unique households listed other as their housing, a 28% decrease over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 2,973 unique households didn’t indicate housing type, a 155% increase over the same quarter in 2022.

Income

  • 2,052 unique households were receiving Ontario Works, a 7% increase over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 1,832 unique households were receiving Ontario Disability Support Program payments, an 1% increase over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 2,149 unique households were employed, a 40% increase over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 2,072 unique households have no income source, a 258% increase over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 650 unique households were receiving an Old Age Pension, a 5% increase over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 263 unique households were receiving Employment Insurance payments, a 14% decrease over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 1,106 unique households were receiving a Student Loan, a 153% increase over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 1,019 unique households listed other as an income source, a 26% increase over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 3,154 unique households didn’t report income source, a 4% increase over the same quarter in 2022.

Program visits

  • 125,501 food assistance program visits, a 28% increase over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 13,470 unique households accessed a hamper program, a 38% increase over the same quarter in 2022.
  • 1,447 unique households accessed a hamper program 8+ times, a 27% increase over the same quarter in 2022.

Read our 2021 Hunger Count, an annual snapshot that provides insight into food insecurity in Waterloo region.