Canadian Food Banks Struggling; Prime Minister Commits $100M to Help

Thousands of Canadians rely on food banks every year, and this will increase during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thousands of Canadians rely on food banks every year, and this will increase during the COVID-19 pandemic.

April 3, 2020 — On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the Canadian federal government will be providing $100 million to food banks across the country. This is in response to the growing demands on food banks and simultaneous drop in food donations.

The $100 million will be divided up as follows:

  • $50 million to Food Banks Canada
  • $20 million divided up between the Salvation Army, Second Harvest, Community Food Centres Canada, Breakfast Club of Canada
  • $30 million to local organizations

Some food banks in Canada are seeing declines in food donations of up to 50 percent as the numbers of food insecure people continue to grow amid the crisis. This is a serious situation, as many food banks only have 10-14 days worth of stock in their locations to help with the growing demand.

History has shown us that during times of economic turbulence, food banks are vital to keeping the population fed and healthy. For example, during the Great Recession the number of Canadians using food banks grew by 200,000 people per month. The economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are just starting to become evident as thousands of Canadians are falling into unemployment — many losing their jobs due to food business closures.

For those that are experiencing financial struggles, they cannot afford to stock pile foods and other household items like many other Canadians are doing during the pandemic. They are also struggling to access basic supplies from grocery stores such as toilet paper and hygiene products that have been emptied from shelves due to panicked shoppers.

Other issues food banks are facing include the number of volunteers declining as some are falling ill with COVID-19. Many volunteers are elderly and in the high-risk group for severe COVID-19 infections and so are unable to volunteer as they stay home to keep themselves safe.

The Prime Minister stated that food banks and their volunteers are essential and that more support is vital at this time. The hope is that the committed funds will help food banks and the vulnerable Canadians they support survive during the COVID-19 crisis.