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November 10, 2023

How can you make a meaningful contribution to support food banks?

Illustration of three food cans with different sizes

Food banks play a crucial role in fighting against food insecurity and helping people in need, with over 2,300 in Canada. In this blog post, we'll explore the current challenges food banks face and how we can support them in their daily mission.

Record-breaking visits

It's a real crisis. The past few years have been difficult for Canada's food bank network. And once again, they're sounding the alarm in the face of soaring demand. More Canadians solicited the food bank network during the pandemic. Despite the emergency measures put in place by the Canadian government, the urgent food aid situation has worsened in the last two years due to inflation and the rising cost of housing that is reaching unprecedented record levels.

Whereas in the past, requests for assistance were closely linked to increased unemployment rates, this is not the case anymore. Despite historically low unemployment, the demand for food aid has never been higher. Regardless of popular belief, food insecurity has many faces and affects all sectors of the population, both employed and unemployed. In 2023, Food Banks of Quebec helped a record number of workers. Between 2019 and 2023, the province of Quebec registered a 102% increase in the number of workers who used the services of food banks. A sad observation from this report is that children account for a third of users.

Every year, Food Banks Canada and Food Banks of Quebec share reports presenting numbers about food bank agencies and programs. According to the HungerCount 2023 report, nearly 2 million people accessed food banks in March 2023 across Canada for almost 4 million meals distributed in the network's 2,388 food banks. These numbers represent an increase of 15% in one year and nearly 35% in only three years.

The situation in Quebec is equally alarming. For the year 2023, according to the HungerCount 2023 figures issued by Food Banks of Quebec, more than 2.6 million requests for food aid were recorded each month, representing a 30% increase since 2022. According to the organization, nearly 872,000 people use the network every month. These alarming numbers reflect a 30% increase from 2022 and a significant 73% surge compared to the pre-COVID-19 year of 2019.

While there can be various reasons compelling people to seek food assistance, Food Banks Canada identifies the high cost of food, low provincial social assistance rates, and escalating housing costs as the primary factors contributing to this unfortunate trend.

Donations are at the heart of the food bank system

Food banks depend mainly on the support of donors and their donations. They distribute meals from a variety of sources:

  • Throughout the year, food banks benefit from food donations, fundraising campaigns, and and drop-off points where it is possible to get food boxes across the country.
  • Some organizations have also partnered with restaurant owners to get low-cost meals or to receive food surplus or farm donations to provide meals.
  • By combating and preventing food waste, food banks can recover surplus inventory, nearly expired foods, or even products that have been incorrectly packaged or are slightly imperfect or damaged.

In response to this ongoing crisis, food banks, non-profit organizations, and cooperatives are actively coordinating efforts to more effectively address the increasing demand and assist those experiencing food insecurity. In Quebec, initiatives have been implemented to increase and better redistribute the food donations collected. The National-Provincial Sharing System (NPSS) enables equitable sharing across the province according to regional needs and realities. To help those in need while combating food waste, the Supermarket Recovery Program (SRP) enables food retailers and food banks to work together to recover unsold food.

How can we support food banks?

While the number of visits remains high all year round, requests for food aid explode during the holiday season. This time of year is a great opportunity to share and get donations. You can do your part. Feel free to explore fresh and innovative approaches for raising funds beyond the confines of traditional fundraising campaigns. 

Coupled with a team building event such as a work Christmas party, an online fundraising auction using the Followmybid platform can be a fast and effective way to raise money and support food banks. By following a few simple steps and enlisting the help of your employees, it's possible to combine fun with good deeds in support of initiatives against food insecurity.

There are also many other ways to help food banks and food kitchens in their daily struggle, whether by donating food, whether by donating food, volunteering or participating in initiatives such as The Media Food Drive, organized every year since 2001. These initiatives allow individuals to participate in the fight against hunger based on their resources and circumstances.

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