A new survey suggests a growing number of Canadians are struggling with the rising cost of food as prices for basics like pasta, bread and meat all soar.
The poll from Food Banks Canada indicates hunger and food insecurity are increasing across the country, with lower-income Canadians hit hardest by inflation.
“It’s really hard to hear just how many people in this country are struggling,” Food Banks Canada CEO Kirstin Beardsley said in an interview Monday. “We found that nearly one in five Canadians report going hungry over the last two years.”
The survey, conducted by Mainstreet Research, found almost a quarter of Canadians reported eating less than they should because there wasn’t enough money for food — a figure that nearly doubled for those earning under $50,000 a year.
It also found that one in five Canadians reported going hungry at least once between March 2020 and March 2022.
The automated telephone interview poll surveyed 4,009 adults from Feb. 25 to March 2. For comparison purposes only, a random sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of plus or minus 1.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Food banks stretched
Beardsley says the majority of food banks are already stretched to their limit and this summer is expected to be the toughest in the organization’s 41-year history.
“Food banks in most regions of Canada are experiencing an influx of Canadians visiting food banks for the first time — a number that’s increased by up to 25 per cent in some regions,” she said in a statement.
“Canadians are telling us that they are running out of money for food because of rising housing, gas, energy and food costs.”
Statistics Canada says consumers paid 9.7 per cent more for food at stores in April compared with a year ago, the largest increase since September 1981.
The federal agency says pasta prices were up 19.6 per cent year over year, cereal products rose 13.9 per cent, bread increased 12.2 per cent and fresh fruit costs spiked 10 per cent.
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Breanna Cordeiro of Oakville, Ont., said the rising price of gas combined with stagnated wages has left her family doing calculations in the grocery aisle.
“Where you look at budgeting, it’s like, where can we make some cuts?” she said. “And unfortunately, sometimes it has to be food.”
Her family is opting for more meatless meals and stocking up on groceries based largely on what’s on sale.
But even then, the mother of two said, it can be tough.
“The flyer comes out every Wednesday or Thursday, and it’s like, ‘This is on sale? This is the sale price? That’s what you used to pay full price, even six months ago.'”