By Spencer Turcotte and Nicholas Baxter
Compared to recent years, more people with post-secondary degrees are using food banks.
The Daily Bread Food Bank released their annual “Who’s Hungry” report Monday indicating a 15.8 per cent increase in food bank visits since last year among people aged 18-30. The report also shows that 35 per cent of people who use the food bank have a post-secondary education.
Kimberley Vaz, co-ordinator of the Good Food Centre at Ryerson, attributes the jump to rising tuition rates and low minimum wages. She says food banks are not the answer to helping those who can’t afford food despite visits to Toronto food banks being the highest since the last recession.
“I don’t think very many people working in a food bank setting would ever say they’re the solution. They’re a Band-Aid solution,” said Vaz. “Right now in September, we just got our student loans, so most people are actually OK. It’s in a month or two when we’ll start seeing increases of the general student body coming by because that’s when funds start to run out.”
Daily Bread Food Bank executive director Gail Nyberg said she’s worried about the spike in demand from young adults revealed in the report.
“It’s a pretty dramatic number and it’s concerning. The economy seems to be doing well but many people in it aren’t doing as well,” said Nyberg.
The Ryersonian previously reported on a food shortage at the Good Food Centre in 2015. Nyberg said to prevent a shortage from happening again during a time when demands are heightened, communication between Daily Bread and the Good Food Centre should be the focus to ensure needs are met.
“I know Ryerson receives food from us so whoever is running the food bank has to be very careful to input the numbers (for food coming in) or make a phone call,” said Nyberg.
Ryerson School of Nutrition director Cecilia Rocha said she wasn’t surprised about the recent increase of food bank visits because nothing has been done to address the problem.
Addressing poverty will reduce the need for food banks, said Rocha.
“In a way, as a society, we allowed this to happen. We allowed food banks to be a type of escape from the inevitable.”