In Canada, hunger is largely a hidden problem. Many Canadians are simply not aware that large numbers of children, women and men in this country often go to bed hungry. Hunger is caused by low-income. While anyone is at risk of food insecurity at some point in their lives, certain groups are particularly vulnerable. 47.8% of food bank clients in Canada receive welfare as welfare rates in Canada fall below the poverty line and do not ensure food security.
The working poor – people with low-wage jobs – constitute 11.7% of food bank users. The expansion of the low-wage economy has generated more working poor who, even with full-time jobs, are unable to meet basic needs for themselves and their families.
Hunger is a reality for tens of thousands of the Canada’s rural residents.
Child poverty is directly tied to the level of household income. 36.9% of food bank clients are children under 18. Among food bank clients, families with children make up nearly half of households helped. Lone parents (typically mothers) and their children are still one of Canada’s most economically vulnerable groups and make up (23.4%) of food bank users.
People that receive disability support are another large group of food bank clients, accounting for one in five households helped by food banks. Disability support is not enough to help clients feed themselves. Canada has a rapidly aging society and life expectancy is increasing. If current disability programs and rates do not improve there is an expected rise in food insecurity for this demographic. Currently, seniors account for 4.3% of food bank users.
Hunger, as a symptom of poverty, is a structural problem. Sustainable solutions to hunger and poverty require a mix of system-based policies aimed at improving the incomes and income security of poor Canadians, such as raising social assistance rates and minimum wages, improving access to employment insurance and developing a national child care system.