Hunger on the Rise in Mississauga
While Mississauga was never typically associated with homelessness, poverty and hunger, it—like most big cities—is home to a troubling number of residents who are not only grappling with unaffordable housing, but also food insecurity.
The Face of Hunger in Mississauga, a 2018 report from the Mississauga Food Bank, reveals a 52 per cent increase in seniors accessing services over the last two years.
The report points out that, in the last year, The Mississauga Food Bank recorded an 18 per cent increase in the number of neighbours accessing their network—something the organization is calling an unprecedented jump in the organization's 32-year history.
In the report, the food bank investigates causes of hunger in the city and looks at the stories of the residents who are most vulnerable to being affected by poverty.
The results, while troubling, are not surprising—especially at a time where rental prices average about $1,200 a month and condos—the last affordable housing type—cost buyers up to $450,000.
The report finds that individuals, families, and seniors are most likely to be affected by two related challenges: a lack of affordable housing and struggles with insufficient income.
The report finds that with 71 per cent of clients living in rental housing and paying an average of 64 per cent of their monthly income on rent, many have no choice but to turn to the food bank for assistance.
The report also states that these challenges are increasing for Mississauga's seniors.
In the last two years, the number of older residents visiting The Mississauga Food Bank has increased by 52 per cent.
According to the report, one in three households spend over 30 per cent of their income on housing. One in eight household spend over 50 per cent on housing, and one in 12 spend over 70 per cent.
According to the report, people spending these amounts struggle to afford food.
"The truth is that there is no one single face of hunger in the city", says Meghan Nicholls, executive director, Mississauga Food Bank. "As the need for food banks continues to rise across Mississauga, we are depending on the donations of food and funds we receive from individuals, local businesses, and community groups. It takes all of us to feed our hungry neighbours and it will take all of us to change the face of hunger."
Some food bank clients are also already on social assistance programs.
According to the report, 27 per cent of its client's primary income comes from Ontario Works. For the 12 per cent of clients whose income is made via employment, the clients make an average of $1,543 a month.
The report also points out that single parents are disproportionately affected by food insecurity.
Going forward, the organization says it will put pressure on the province to tackle escalating housing costs.
"The Mississauga Food Bank anticipates more neighbours will turn to the food bank for relief in the coming years because of the rising cost of housing and decreasing government support for social assistance rates. We affirm the Ontario Association of Food Bank's (OAFB) Recommendations to the Government of Ontario regarding affordable housing and income support through Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)."
To read the full report, click here.
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