58,000 residents will use food bank by May as problem grows in Mississauga, agency says

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Published March 11, 2024 at 5:14 pm

Food Banks Mississauga spring food drive 2024.

Mississauga, like numerous other communities across Ontario and Canada, is heading in the wrong direction when it comes to ensuring all people within its borders have enough food to put on the table.

That’s the thinking in recent years of officials with Food Banks Mississauga, the city’s largest food bank, which heads up a network of more than 65 community agencies.

And as they launch FBM’s latest Spring Drive, officials remain convinced things are heading in the wrong direction — in terms of both real numbers and action from senior levels of government to adequately address the problem.

FBM officials say they’re faced with a “staggering demand” from Mississauga residents in need.

“Food Banks Mississauga is projecting that eight per cent of Mississauga’s population will visit a food bank by the end of May 2024. This represents 58,000 residents who are living with food insecurity,” FBM officials said in a news release announcing the launch last Friday of the 2024 Spring Drive.

The eight per cent estimate is a 25 per cent increase compared to projections from last summer.

FBM’s 2024 Spring Drive runs March 8 through April 30, with officials aiming to raise $800,000. Scotts Canada Ltd. is again sponsoring the drive and will match donations dollar for dollar, according to FBM.

Food Banks Mississauga CEO Meghan Nicholls, here addressing city council in October, says the agency predicts it will see 58,000 users by the end of May.

Officials say that since last June, FBM and its vast network of agency member have seen, on average, 45 per cent more food bank users than the previous year. Food insecurity is worsening as government funding for social assistance programs is not meeting the needs of those living
close to or below the poverty line, FBM contends.

“We are facing a challenging time, and we will continue to struggle until our governments prioritize improvements to social services to support neighbours living precariously,” FBM CEO Meghan Nicholls said in a news release. “Each month, we are forced to increase our capacity to meet the ever-growing demand and we are sourcing and sending out more food compared to the same time last year. By the end of May, we are projecting that we will provide food for eight million meals, which is a 33 per cent increase compared to last year.

“Until our elected officials stop ignoring the needs of those living in poverty, we will continue to see more folks turn to us for food,” she added.

This past December, FBM noted its network had seen more food bank users since June 2023 than it did in all of 2022.

FBM’s latest Annual Impact Report, released last October, showed the organization is providing meals for 82 per cent more people today than it did prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It also revealed that from June 2022 through last May, FBM served 18 per cent more people than the previous year.

The bottom line, says Nicholls, is that the need is more rapidly growing than ever before, in Mississauga and other communities across both Ontario and Canada.

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