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More Canadian households struggling to put food on the table due to high cost of living: report

As the cost-of-living crisis persists and food prices continue to rise, two-parent households are increasingly turning to food banks across Canada to feed their families, a new report shows.

The 2023 Hunger Count by Food Banks Canada published on Wednesday uses food bank data from all provinces and territories in March 2023 to provide a snapshot of how pronounced food bank usage has become across the country.

This year, about 21 per cent of food bank usage was by two-parent households, an increase from 19.3 per cent in 2022 and 18.8 per cent in 2019.

Single-parent households represent about 17.3 per cent of food bank users in 2023, representing a slight decrease from 2022 (17.9 per cent) and 2019 (18.3 per cent).

About one-third of food bank clients — 642,257 — are children, the data shows.

This rate has "held steady" since before the pandemic, but the report notes that children account for only 20 per cent of the general population.

"Food bankers mentioned that families with children are struggling with the combination of high housing, food and fuel costs in addition to the costs of child care and other child-specific needs," the report reads.


In March 2023, there were an "unprecedented" 1.9 million visits to food banks. This is a 32 per cent increase from 2022 and a 78 per cent increase since before the pandemic.

"It isn’t just those at the lowest ends of the economic spectrum who are suffering," the report notes. "Many people who never thought they would need to turn to a food bank are walking through our doors for the first time."

Food bank visits across Canada per province. For many places in Canada, children make up almost a third of food bank visits in 2023.

More people accessing food banks are reporting they have an income, meaning that some Canadians with employment are now struggling to put food on the table.

About 17 per cent of food bank clients this year reported having a job, compared to 12 per cent in 2019. However, the majority (42.4 per cent) of food bank users continue to be people living off of social assistance.

"Provincial social assistance rates are so low that all household types receiving social assistance live below the official poverty line in almost every province and territory," the report reads.


Across the country, as households grapple with sky-high inflation, Canadians cited the hefty cost of groceries as the main reason they turn to food banks.

"General costs were always a key factor, especially housing, but the gross increase in food costs has greatly exacerbated the negative impacts our neighbours are facing regardless of income status," one survey respondent from Ontario said in the report.

Food costs have remained high over the last several years, despite some improvements in headline inflation.

Some grocery staples including pasta, fruits, vegetables and meats are still costly for families, despite prices decreasing slightly in the last several months.

A recent report by Statistics Canada said two-parent households will spend around $500,000 to raise two children from birth to 17 years old. This price increases by 29 per cent if children stay at home until 22 years old.

In this report, food accounts for the third-largest expense for two-parent households and the second-largest expense for one-parent households.

The increasing pressures of inflation on families in Canada are contributing to record-high food bank usage, the Hunger Count says.

The price of shelter, low wages and not enough working hours were some of the other reasons that led Canadians to rely on food banks, the report notes. Top Stories

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