Hunger is severely rising in Guelph according to the Guelph Food Bank.
Based on a 16-day service period, June 2018 saw 1,409 individuals served with 926 adults and 483 children. Whereas, June 2019 saw 1,638 individuals served with 1,047 adults and 591 children.
Comparing the two months’ statistics shows a 22 per cent increase in the number of children and a 13 per cent increase in the number of adults in Guelph in just the past month alone.
The 2018 Hunger Report states while it is common to think that households enduring any degree of food insecurity would visit a food bank, the reality is that most food banks are attended on an emergency basis after all other “coping methods” have been used.
Marketing and communications coordinator Pauline Cripps at the Guelph Food Bank says the numbers have been rising pretty regularly.
She says she was surprised to see how similar the Guelph statistics are with the province-wide statistics available in the Feed Ontario report.
Feed Ontario, known previously as The Ontario Association of Food Banks is a province-wide network of 130 food banks and 1,100 hunger relief agencies.
“When I saw it all line up I was like ‘oh maybe we are in the same boat as everybody else'.”
Cripps says the yearly and monthly totals of individuals served vary due to a number of factors.
“In the winter, you have a lot of seasonal workers. Say they're roofers and they're working all summer. They're laid off during the winter. So we see a lot more of that coming in during the winter month,” says Cripps.
Similarly, Cripps gives an example of workers in the snowplough industry who are seen in the Guelph Food Bank in the summer.
“Our numbers kind of go with what's happening seasonally,” says Cripps.
Cripps says there’s no concrete evidence as to why the Guelph Food Bank sees more or less kids or adults at any given month.
“Its kind of strange because sometimes we actually see more families if the kids are off and sometimes because the kids are off we actually see less families,” says Cripps.
She says one of the possible reasons Guelph is particularly seeing a hike in number is because of the increase in the number of refugees and immigrants that settled in Guelph.
“That's happening all over the place and we’re definitely seeing that here as well,” says Cripps.
Another reason she states is the increase in factory work in the city. She says many factories employ a significant number of their clients.
“We deal with a lot of people who are underemployed. Not even so much in June, but for example in July and August, especially in the tail end of July and beginning of August, that's when a lot of plants tend to shut down,” says Cripps.
“So we’re already starting to see more people coming in because of the shutdown.”