Increasing Food Bank Use Shows Urgent Need for Federal Action on Poverty

Ottawa – The number of people accessing Canadian food banks increased for the third consecutive year in 2016, and is now 28% higher than before the 2008-2009 recession, according to a national study released this week by Food Banks Canada.

In total, 863,492 people received food from a food bank in March 2016; 307,535 were children – more than one-third of all people accessing the service.

Food banks in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia led the national increase. These provinces each experienced jumps of 20% in the number of people accessing food banks in March 2016 as compared to 2015.

“No one should need to access a food bank in a country as prosperous as Canada,” said Shawn Pegg, Director of Policy and Research at Food Banks Canada, which coordinated the national study involving more than 4,000 food programs. “The fact that more than 860,000 people access a food bank each month shows that we need to break from the past in our approach to hunger and poverty.”

HungerCount 2016 makes policy recommendations to federal, provincial and territorial governments to reduce the need for food banks. These include:

  • The adoption of a national poverty reduction strategy, with measureable targets and adequate funding, by October 1st 2017.
  • Changes to social assistance to reduce food insecurity and increase labour force participation.
  • Real steps toward a Basic Income in Canada.
  • Investments to address the shocking levels of food insecurity in Northern Canada.

“We were pleased to see federal improvements to both child benefits and pensions in the past year,” continued Pegg. “The HungerCount shows, however, that there is still much more to be done.”

For a full copy of the HungerCount 2016 report, visit .
To view the HungerCount video, please visit our YouTube channel.

canadian-hunger-map-2016-food-banks-canadaAbout the HungerCount Survey
HungerCount was initiated in 1989, and is the only annual national research study of food banks and other food programs in Canada. Since 1997, data for the study have been collected every March. The information provided by the survey is invaluable, forming the basis of many Food Banks Canada activities throughout the year. #HungerCount
About Food Banks Canada
Food Banks Canada supports a unique network of food-related organizations in every province and territory, which assists more than 860,000 Canadians each month. Together, this network shares over 200 million pounds of essential, safe, quality food annually, provides social programs that help to foster self-sufficiency, and advocates for policy change that will help create a Canada where no one goes hungry. Visit for more information.

Relieving hunger today. Preventing hunger tomorrow.