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Food banks and other food charities anticipate a 60 per cent increase in demand in 2023

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A new report says reliance on food banks and other food charities is expected to increase by 60 per cent in 2023, following a 134 per cent growth of food program dependency in 2022.

More than 1,300 Canadian food charity organizations were surveyed at the end of 2022, in order to determine what’s expected of future food insecurity in specific communities. The survey was conducted by Second Harvest, Canada’s largest food rescue organization, which aimed to examine the anticipated need for food charity in the new year.

“It is a new year, but there is no resolution in sight for Canada’s food insecurity problem,” said Lori Nikkel, CEO of Second Harvest, in a press release. “The end of COVID supports, food inflation and flat wages are all contributing to increased reliance on food charity. Without systemic change, food insecurity will only get worse in Canada.”

According to the report, non-profits that completed the survey anticipated a total budget shortfall of $94 million to meet next year's demand. This averages $70,000 per organization.

“In the short-term, [non-profits] need financial support because surging demand is outpacing supply,” said Suman Roy, CEO of the Scarborough Food Security Initiative, in the release. She also mentioned that since the pandemic, the amount of non-profits in Canada increased by 214 per cent, with another 60 per cent expected in 2023.

The survey also reported that 39 per cent of organizations will require 50 per cent or more perishable food next year to meet rising demands, with 44 per cent of food programs saying they will need 50 percent or more non-perishable food next year. Up to 70 per cent of surveyed organizations said they need both food – whether it’s perishable or not – and funding to be adequately equipped for the year.

According to the latest consumer price index report released Wednesday, Statistics Canada reported that inflation had slowed to 6.8 per cent in November, but these declines were offset by grocery prices, which rose 11.4 per cent year over year in November. This is up from 11 per cent in October.

A food price report from Dalhousie University projected that grocery costs are expected to rise up to seven per cent more in 2023, with the average family of four having an annual food expenditure of more than $16,000. On top of that, the high cost of housing and gas have added to the inflation storm, making it exceedingly difficult for Canadians to afford food on their plates.

“Access to food is a human right, not a privilege,” Nikkel said. “More charitable food programs will not decrease food insecurity in Canada. More food charity is only treating the problem, not finding a solution. In the long-term, individuals need government support like income regulation that’s indexed to inflation and solutions for affordable housing so that non-profit food programs are not needed in the first place.”

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