Seniors fastest-growing segment of London Food Bank users

Fire photo.
Fire photo. Charmaine de Silva

On the heels of a troubling report that the use of Toronto food banks has increased to near 2008 recession levels, new stats out of London suggest the city is in a similar boat.

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The annual report out of Toronto says the average length of time that people are relying on the food banks increased to 24 months in 2017, double what it was in 2010. It also noted that while people 65 and over make up a small proportion of food bank users, they’ve become the fastest-rising age group of users with an increase of 27 per cent from the year before.

“When you look at seniors, it’s actually a growing percentage in terms of the numbers of folks that are actually coming,” said London Food Bank executive director Jane Roy.

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“The first eight months of this year, it’s over 3,500 different individuals and that’s like a nine per cent increase over the same period last year.”

Seniors now make up about 13 per cent of food bank users in London, up from about 10 per cent just a few years ago.

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Roy says they’re not sure why there’s been such an increase, but adds it’s not entirely surprising after taking into account the aging population. As well, seniors tend to have the most trouble getting retrained and rehired after losing their jobs.

“People are obviously falling through the cracks and they need help. Again, when you talk about seniors and you talk about kids, regardless of how they got there, most of us always agree we need to help them.”

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Other than the increase in seniors, Roy says the total number of food bank users in London is largely unchanged from last year.