82% more people are using food banks in Mississauga compared to pre-pandemic times: Report

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Published October 19, 2023 at 12:19 pm

Food Banks Mississauga 2023 annual report
(Photo: Food Banks Mississauga)

Mississauga’s largest food bank is providing meals for 82 per cent more people today than it did prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest annual report from Food Banks Mississauga shows.

Released this week, the agency’s Annual Impact Report also reveals that from June 2022 through this past May, FBM served 18 per cent more people than the previous year.

The numbers, FBM officials say, “paint a picture of the unique challenges our community faced this year, with new record-breaking numbers of first-time food bank users and Ukrainian newcomers.”

In total, according to the report, FBM helped provide meals for 35,538 people this year, or five per cent of Mississauga’s population.

Additionally, the organization, which heads up a network of more than 60 member agencies across Canada’s seventh-largest city, distributed 5.9 million pounds of food in the past 12 months.

FBM officials and food banks across Ontario and the country have been sounding the alarm over the past year in response to trends that show more and more people are in need of food banks and are having trouble getting out of poverty.

A fast-growing number of people simply can’t afford to put enough food on the table for their family, FBM CEO Meghan Nicholls says.

Nicholls told Mississauga city council in September that the hunger situation in Mississauga and across the province and country is worse than ever.

Additionally, she pointed out at the time, more than half of city residents who received help from food banks in the past year were first-time users, double that of the previous year.

Nicholls said the number of food bank clients in Mississauga, and in other communities across Ontario and Canada, is staggering.

“It is an unbelievable number of people,” Nicholls said earlier, “…and the number one reason is that they can’t afford their housing.

“After paying (for housing), there’s no money left over for food.”

She added: “Every food bank across the province and country looks like we do right now,” especially those in urban centres.

Nicholls further noted that about 12 per cent (4,200 people) of food bank users in Mississauga in the past year are newcomers from Ukraine who’ve fled to Canada to escape war in their homeland.

Formerly known as The Mississauga Food Bank, FBM recently wrapped up its annual Mayor’s City-Wide Thanksgiving Drive.

Nicholls is expected to deliver the results of that effort to city council next week.

The recently rebranded organization set an ambitious goal of $1 million in donations for this year’s Thanksgiving drive.

The annual report from FBM also revealed that 11,043 of those who used the food bank in the last year are children, a 10 per cent increase from the previous year

For more information or to volunteer, visit the FBM website.

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