Food banks were originally intended to be a temporary measure, when the first Canadian food bank opened its doors in Edmonton in 1981. Instead, the need for food banks has continued over the years and, in fact, grown. Today, there are approximately 800 food banks in Canada and over 3,000 food programs.
In their 2012 Report, Food Banks Canada stated that in March 2012 alone, almost 900,000 Canadians turned to food banks. This is an increase of 2.4 per cent over 2011, and is 31 per cent higher than in 2008, before the recession began.
To put these figures in context, each month Canadian food banks provide approximately five days worth of food to a population equal to the province of New Brunswick. No one actually wants to use a food bank, but it is a harsh reality that many Canadians are forced to face every day.
Hunger is toxic for those living through it, and it is harmful to Canada as a whole. It reduces the economic contributions of individuals and increases costs related to health care and social services.
Canada needs to tackle hunger directly, rather than continue to pay out year after year for its long-term consequences. Hunger takes an enormous toll on the people who experience it, and Canadians should not have to rely on food banks in order to survive.