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Over 1.1M people visited a GTA food bank in 2012: report

TORONTO – The number of people using Toronto’s food banks is “almost” a good news story, according to the 2013 “Who’s Hungry? A tale of Three Cities” report by Daily Bread Food Bank.

The number of people using food banks in Toronto has “stabilized” compared to one year ago, the report states. But more than 1.12 million Toronto-area residents used a food bank between April 2012 and March 2013. That’s an increase of 40 per cent since the onset of the recession in 2008.

But the number of people dependent on food banks varies significantly depending whether they live in the downtown core, the inner suburbs or the 905. Visits to food banks in the downtown core have fallen to pre-recession levels, while usage in the inner suburbs has grown 38 per cent and usage in the 905 has increase 19 per cent since 2008.

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A look at how usage of food banks differ between the GTA’s various regions. Credit: Screengrab from ‘Who’s hungry? A tale of three cities” report. Screengrab / Who's Hungry? A Tale of Three Cities report

The report points to falling unemployment rates as an indicator of food bank usage: The more people gainfully employed, the fewer rely on outside sources to feed themselves. Ontario’s unemployment rate in August 2013 was 7.5 per cent, down 0.5 percentage points from August 2012, according to Statistics Canada.

The report suggests up to 32 per cent of first time users had recently lost their job. 17 per cent of first users suffer from a disability and another 17 per cent recently moved to the area.

There’s also indication housing affordability becomes a factor: Some food bank users, the report claims, spend close to 75 per cent of their monthly income on shelter and as a result “food becomes a luxury.”