Hamilton Food Share declares a “food crisis” as it launches annual donation drive

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Published December 1, 2023 at 4:04 pm

Hamilton Food Share

“To be emotionally calm, so that I can give my daughter peace of mind and not feel the fear I feel the fear I feel when I don’t have enough money to cover all the expenses on time.”

That’s a response from the Feed Ontario’s Food Bank Report 2023 to the question, ‘What is the biggest challenge of living in poverty?’

Hamilton Food Share, the city’s emergency food hub and coordinator for a network of 23 hunger relief programs operation in neighbourhoods all over Hamilton, has declared a “food crisis” as it launches its annual donation drive.

“Food banks in Ontario experienced their largest single-year increase on record and in Hamilton we have seen an increase of 40 per cent in household visits to food banks, including a 34 per cent increase in people who had never accessed a food bank before.”

Hamilton is one of the communities hardest hit by food poverty – 17,500 residents accessed food banks and meal program services last month alone -but the problem is widespread. Precarious employment, inadequate social safety nets and support programs, and an unaffordable cost of living are making it harder for Ontarians to get ahead and the need is especially acute around the holiday season.

The Food Bank Ontario report reported 800,000 people using food banks in the province between April 1, 2022 and March 31, 2023, a 38 per cent increase from the previous year and double the spike seen after the 2008 recession.

Nearly six million individual visits were made to food banks last year, a 101 per cent increase from pre-pandemic levels.

Hamilton Food Share is looking for donations of food and cash to help those in need, with every $1 donating providing $5 worth of food. The organization is also encouraging people, service and church groups and schools to organize food drives to help stock the shelves at food banks and provide every Hamiltonian the opportunity to contribute to the fight against hunger.

Eighty-one per cent of the food donated to Hamilton Food Share comes from food producers, food industry distributors and farm marketing agencies and there are a couple of corporate food drive ongoing right now, including the Loblaws Holiday Food Drive (November 30-December 24) at participating Real Canadian Superstores and No Frills locations, with the parent company matching donations up to $100,000; and CBC Hamilton’s Sounds of the Season fundraising and food-raising campaign.

Plenty of smaller organizations and individuals also make huge contributions to Hamilton Food Share, such as the Canadian War Planes Museum, which donated 472 pounds of food; and Gene Champagne and the Unteens, which chipped in 360 pounds of food and $1,000 cash.

Operating for more than 30 years, Hamilton Food Share delivers 4.3 million pounds of food to local food banks each year, ensuring that everyone has access to healthy good food for themselves and their families.

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