Canadian seniors turning to food banks as housing costs soar

by Steve Randall14 Nov 2019

High housing costs are resulting in Canadian seniors facing a difficult choice between rent payments and food.

A new report from Food Banks Canada has found that seniors are the fastest-growing cohort of food bank users, amid an overall increase in usage by single-person households.

Overall food bank use has stabilized according to data from 2010 to 2019, with the share of single parents using the 4,934 facilities surveyed having fallen from 27.5% to 18% over that time period.

Meanwhile, the share of single-person households using food banks has increased to 48%; and the share of Canadians over the age of 65 accessing food banks have increased by nearly 30% since 2016, while age groups under 30 have decreased or only minimally increased during the same time period.

Those Canadians who live in market rent housing have also become more prevalent users of food banks compared to those in social housing:

"Hunger is cruelly invisible and people who are hungry will rarely ask for help," said Sylvain Charlebois, Senior Director Agri-Food Analytics Lab and professor in Food Distribution and Policy at Dalhousie University. "The fact is they shouldn't have to make trade-offs between paying rent and eating nutritious food. We need reliable, effective social safety nets to help them. Food banks are at the forefront of understanding how to engage the human spirit, between those who need it and those who want to help."

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