Nearly 36,000 people used food banks in Mississauga this year as need is greater than ever


Published September 13, 2023 at 1:00 pm

The need to help feed people in Mississauga who can’t afford to put enough food on the table for their families has never been greater, Mayor Bonnie Crombie said this morning as the city’s largest food bank ramps up its annual Thanksgiving drive.

“I’ve never seen (the need) as bad. I hate saying that every year,” Crombie told Wednesday’s meeting of council and Food Banks Mississauga CEO Meghan Nicholls, who said to councillors moments earlier during her presentation that the hunger situation in Mississauga and across the province and country is worse than ever.

As FBM, formerly The Mississauga Food Bank, kicks off its annual Mayor’s City-Wide Thanksgiving Drive, Nicholls said more people in Mississauga than ever before — 35,538, or five per cent of the city’s population — have used food banks this year. In total, the organization distributed 5.9 million pounds of food in the past 12 months.

That’s why the recently rebranded organization, which heads up a network of more than 60 member agencies across Canada’s seventh-largest city, has set an ambitious goal of $1 million in donations for this year’s Thanksgiving food drive.

The annual food drive kicked off this past Monday and continues until Oct. 15.

Nicholls said the $1 million objective “reflects the depth of the need in our community.”

The latest number of Mississauga residents using food banks across the city represents an 18 per cent increase from the year before and an 82 per cent hike from pre-pandemic figures, Crombie noted.

Additionally, Nicholls pointed out, 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.

She 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, “…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 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.

One particular food bank user, Nicholls added, is a Mississauga woman who was recently diagnosed with cancer and now finds herself in need of help from FBM for the first time.

“That someone fighting cancer” needs to use a food bank “…is a shameful indictment of what we as a society have chosen to prioritize and not prioritize,” she said.

FBM officials said earlier that the organization not only provides food and
resources to support people facing food insecurity now, but it also “advocates for long-term, systemic change to address the root cause of food insecurity — poverty.”

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

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