Despite an improved economy and much on-paper prosperity, the need for food banks is higher in 2017 than it has been before. Food bank use in Toronto is back to levels not seen since the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. People also need to access food banks for twice as long as they did in the past.
The urgency of the need seen at local food banks shows that focusing solely on long-term policy change or on small-scale initiatives, such as community kitchens or gardens, will not meet the immediate food needs of a city population that is struggling right now.
From April 2016 to March 2017, there were a total of 990,970 client visits to Daily Bread Food Bank and North York Harvest Food Bank member agencies. This is the highest annual client visit number in Toronto since 2010, when the effects of the 2008 recession hit Torontonians with full force. This is 9 per cent higher than 2016, and 24 per cent higher than 2008. The average length of time people need to access them has also increased: from an average of one year in 2010 to two years in 2017.