Food Bank Use
Food Bank Use measures the number of individuals using a food bank in a given month (March). The use of a food bank reflects an individual or family receiving a food hamper, which is prepared and consumed in their household.
Why This Matters
Food banks are an important source of food among individuals who are without the means to procure food privately. Food banks, however, provide temporary relief from hunger and are not long-term solutions to food security. According to the Food Banks Canada, poverty is the leading factor to food bank use, and visits to food banks is driven by individuals being forced to choose “between shelter, clothing, and feeding their family” (2018).
Reliance on food banks is representative of a food insecure population in Winnipeg. Food insecurity can lead to, or be reflective of, numerous physical, mental and social health issues. Children experiencing food insecurity at an early age are more likely to develop mental health problems such as hyperactivity and inattention (Melchior et al., 2012). Adults experiencing food insecurity are more vulnerable to numerous physical health problems, including diabetes, hear disease, hypertension, arthritis and mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety and mood disorders.
While food banks are essential to ensuring that people in need have food today, policies targeting the root causes of food bank use are necessary to reduce the number of food bank uses and visits.
Measurement and Limitations
National and Provincial data on food bank use are available from the Food Banks Canada Hunger Count 2018. In 2018, Food Banks Canada updated their methodology for reporting on food bank use to account for number of visits rather than the number of individuals use food banks. For this reason, 2018 data is not comparable with previous numbers.
Data for the Food Bank Use indicator was provided by Winnipeg Harvest.
Food Banks Canada. (2018). Hunger Count 2018. Retrieved from https://hungercount.foodbankscanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/HungerCount2018_p.pdf
Jessiman-Perreault G, McIntyre L. (2017). The household food insecurity gradient and potential reductions in adverse population mental health outcomes in Canadian adults. SSM -Population Health, 3, 464-72.
Melchior M, Chastang J, Falissard B, Galera C, Tremblay R, Cote S, et al. (2012). Food insecurity and children’s mental health: a prospective birth cohort study. PLoS One, 7(12), e52615 Retrieved from: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0052615
PROOF: Food Insecurity Policy Research. (2018). Household Food Insecurity in Canada. Retrieved from: https://proof.utoronto.ca/food-insecurity/#19
Food Bank Use Sustainable Development Goals
2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
It is time to rethink how we grow, share and consume our food.
If done right, agriculture, forestry and fisheries can provide nutritious food for all and generate decent incomes, while supporting people-centred rural development and protecting the environment.
Right now, our soils, freshwater, oceans, forests and biodiversity are being rapidly degraded. Climate change is putting even more pressure on the resources we depend on, increasing risks associated with disasters such as droughts and floods. Many rural women and men can no longer make ends meet on their land, forcing them to migrate to cities in search of opportunities.
A profound change of the global food and agriculture system is needed if we are to nourish today’s 815 million hungry and the additional 2 billion people expected by 2050.
The food and agriculture sector offers key solutions for development, and is central for hunger and poverty eradication.