How do I use and support food banks?

Food banks are not-for-profit organizations that feed people who can't afford enough nutritious meals.

Why do people use food banks?

In March 2019 alone, 1.1 million Canadians visited a food bank according to Food Banks Canada. Of those who rely on food banks, 34% are children. 

A report by the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary found that the minimum wage, the availability of social assistance like disability benefits, and the cost of rent has a big impact on Canadians' reliance on food banks. 

The rising cost of housing while wages stay low means that a lot of people are skipping meals to make ends meet.

If you or your family isn’t making enough money to afford to eat, you can get food for free at food banks.

What is a food bank?

Food banks are not-for-profit organizations that provide food to people who don’t have access to enough nutritious food.

A lot of people and private institutions either donate food, donate money, or donate their time to support food banks.

If you visit a food bank in Ontario, you’ll be given a minimum of three days' worth of emergency food that will include both non-perishable (e.g., pasta, rice, soup, etc.) and fresh (e.g., milk, produce, eggs, etc.) food.

Who can use a food bank?

Anyone in need can use a food bank.

When you visit, you’ll  most likely be assessed to see how the program can help you. Make sure to bring:

  • Photo identification for you and everyone in your household who will be using the food bank’s services

  • Proof of address (e.g., a lease or mail with your name and address on it)

  • Proof of income (e.g., pay stubs or income tax information)

  • Proof of expenses (e.g., rent receipts, bills, etc.)

The information you provide will be kept confidential and never shared outside of the food bank.

Where can I find a food bank?

Feed Ontario unites food banks, industry partners, and local communities to provide food to half a million people each year.

Food Banks Canada's network has about 450 affiliates.

Not all food banks are members of these organizations, so you should also try to find one near you by doing a Google search.

There’s no shame in using a food bank.

Good jobs are hard to get, especially for immigrants and youth. Even getting an education or training for better opportunities is often too expensive.

The rising cost of living (including rent, transportation, food, etc.) means that people have to make tough decisions on how to survive, and sometimes food is is the easiest expense to cut.

You’re not alone and you’re not to blame. The responsibility lies with a society that lets you go hungry.

Until we can create a better world, use a food bank if you need to.

How do I volunteer for a food bank?

If you have the time or energy, you may want to consider supporting your local food bank. 

Food banks depend on donations and community support to run effectively. Even if you don't have extra money to give away, you can support by donating your time.

Volunteers have a range of responsibilities, from packaging, sorting, and serving food, to setting and cleaning up, to data data entry. 

Check out some of these food bank volunteer opportunities across Ontario: