Over the past six years Canadian's have increasingly relied on food banks to combat a severe nation-wide hunger problem. In fact, four million people, including more than a million children, have inadequate or insecure access to food. According to Food Banks Canada, each month close to 850,000 Canadians are assisted by food banks, and 36.4 per cent of those helped are children and youth. Astonishingly enough, food bank use remains higher than it was before the recession began five years ago.
Within the food bank network, crisis has become the norm, yet food banks struggle to keep up with the need. A recent report from Food Banks Canada says that 38 per cent of food banks have been forced to cut back the amount of food they provide to each household because they do not have enough.
Another issue food banks are dealing with is gauging the nutritional value of their donations and purchases. In order to address "hunger," the nutrient value of food must be analyzed. Often, government assistance doesn't cover the much needed vitamin supplements that this underserved population needs to boost nutrition and health.
While food banks are improving their efforts to provide fresh produce, there is a real opportunity using vitamin supplements to augment donations to increase nutritional value overall. Vitamins are especially critical to the health of children under five.
Through our Feed 88 million program we, along with our customers, will donate our vitamins to the nearly 20 food banks we are already donating our muffins to. We often hear how grateful and astonished food banks are to receive donations of any type and the early feedback on vitamins is equally gracious. We know they are being offered to people who really need a nutritional supplement.
In a country as prosperous as Canada, it is still mind boggling to think we as a society have not solved this growing problem. By simply starting to take action first as an individual -- and then as a collective body -- we will stem this issue.
One of the things I point out to people when they hear about our Feed88M program is how important it is to ensure a steady supply of quality, nutritious product to food banks. As our consumer base grows, we are excited by the prospect that consumers across Canada will positively impact their communities with us.
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