July 29th, 2020

Tsunami of food bank use shines a light on gaps in the system: NDP

TORONTO — Thousands of Torontonians went to a food bank for the first time in June, highlighting the desperate need for the province to have a strong anti-poverty strategy.

According to a Daily Bread Food Bank report issued July 29, 6,100 new clients began using Daily Bread food banks in June, compared with about 2,000 new food bank users in February. The Daily Bread food banks now have 20,000 people each week relying on them to keep hunger and malnutrition at bay for themselves and their children.

“In this great city, thousands of children are being put to bed hungry at night, and thousands of families are staring down the possibility of eviction,” said NDP Poverty and Homelessness critic Rima Berns-McGown. "Poverty and food insecurity have always been here, and the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on the gaps in the system. When the pandemic took away jobs and options for families, they found that there wasn’t anywhere to turn but food banks – leaving big questions about shelter, medicine and other basic needs.”

On top of the federal government CERB payments to families, other provinces have supported families suffering income loss due to COVID-19 with additional help, including rent money or direct financial support to bridge the gap. The Ford government has not done any of those things. Although the province was not enforcing evictions as a result of COVID-19, that moratorium ends Aug. 1. Tenants who lost most or all of their income because of the pandemic are now receiving eviction notices, leaving housing experts to worry that thousands will be out on the streets in the coming weeks.

"Food banks do incredible work to nourish and support, and in this case, they’re also the canary in the coal mine,” said Berns-McGown. “The number of people in our city vulnerable to hunger, to poverty and to homelessness is higher than ever, and the province is without a real strategy to help.

“It’s not too late. I’m urging the province to urgently enact a fully funded anti-poverty strategy. It’s never been more necessary.”