In its annual Hunger Report, The Ontario Association of Food Banks says more than 400,000 people use a food bank in the province every month, which it says is an all time high.
As well, more than a third of those people are children.
The report surveyed food bank use across Ontario, including Northern Ontario, urban areas and rural areas.
“When you go to the food bank, you see 200, 300 people waiting there in line for food and you see the children there,” Bill Laidlaw, the association’s executive director, told CBC News.
“There’s a real sense of desperation and need — and it’s heart wrenching,” he said.
The association says some of the largest groups of food bank users include:
- Single parent households.
- Children under 18.
- Seniors or people on a fixed income.
- People recently unemployed.
- University grads having trouble finding work.
The report says that 17,190 households accessed food banks for the first time this year.
'Out of work, struggling'
“With ever increasing housing and food costs, and continuous cuts to social programming, many food bank users are finding themselves out of work and struggling to make ends meet,” the report says.
“I would say it's our national disgrace,” said Gail Nyberg, Executive Director of the Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto.
Nyberg said there have been times when her agency has had to cut back on the food it distributes.
"We try to give three days worth of food for three meals for every person in the family. But there are times — when supplies are low — that we're giving out two days," she said.