Second Harvest Releases Key Findings in New Research 

Toronto, ON (CNW) Second Harvest, Canada’s largest food rescue organization, today released new research examining the anticipated need for food charity in Canada in 2024. The sobering survey, Hungry for Change, found that that more than one-third of non-profit organizations providing free food currently have a waiting list, and are turning people away due to lack of resources. The survey also found that Non-profit food programs are bracing themselves for an additional 18% in demand this year. This translates to more than 1 million people accessing food charity for the first time in 2024.

“People in Canada can’t keep up with rising food costs,” said Lori Nikkel, CEO of Second Harvest. “More people are being pushed towards food charity, which comes as a last resort. Food charities already struggle to meet the current demand, with many of them being forced to turn people away and add their names to growing waitlists for support. Our systems are buckling under the pressure.”

The national survey measures how the charitable food sector, which includes Food Banks, faith-based organizations, schools, shelters and many other social service organizations anticipated how the need for their food charity programs are going to change this year. At the end of 2023, more than 1400 Canadian non-profit organizations supporting people with food were surveyed. This is the second year Second Harvest has conducted this study.

Key findings from the non-profit (NFP) survey include:

  • 36% of NFPs say they have a waitlist of people who cannot access their support. In Toronto, that number increases to 50%.
  • NFPs expect an increase of 18% in additional demand in 2024. In Toronto, non-profit food programs are bracing themselves for an increase of 30%. That translates to more than 1 million people in Canada accessing food charity for the first time this year.
  • 43% of NFPs say they’ll need 50 percent or more perishable food next year to meet the demand.
  • 52% of NFPs say they’ll need 50 percent or more non-perishable food next year to meet the demand.
  • The average need for funding per NFP increased by 13% from last year equating to $76,000 per NFP.
  • Overall food prices are expected to increase by as much as 4.5% in 2024, representing an additional $701.79 for a family of four compared to last year. In 2023, food prices rose by 5.9%. That’s more than 10% in two years.

“Food charity is not a sustainable solution to food insecurity, it’s a band-aid for a gaping wound.” said Nikkel. “We need to treat the cause of food insecurity, not just the symptoms. Solutions that address poverty and provide quick relief are sorely needed. We need federal and provincial support and interventions like bringing back the Surplus Food Rescue Program, expanding the GST Grocery Rebate, increasing minimum wages and social assistance rates and lowering taxes for the lowest income households.”

At a municipal level, Nikkel advocates for actions to inject more food into the charitable sector such as mandated surplus edible food redistribution from food businesses, distributors, street festivals and events, as well as public policy related to the measurement and reporting of food waste by businesses.

Media are invited to attend a presentation of the research findings by Lori Nikkel, with comments from Olivia Chow, Mayor of Toronto on February 27, 11 a.m. from Second Harvest’s headquarters in Etobicoke at 120 The East Mall.

A summary on the report findings, including regional results for Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, Calgary and Halifax can be found here: 

About Second Harvest

Second Harvest is Canada’s largest food rescue organization and an expert in perishable food recovery. Every year we expand our network with industry to include more farms, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and food service. We work with thousands of businesses across the food supply chain, to reduce the amount of edible food going to waste, which in turn stops millions of pounds of greenhouse gases from damaging our environment. The food Second Harvest recovers is redirected to charity and non-profit organizations, ensuring people have access to the healthy food they need. Second Harvest is a global thought leader on food loss and waste and perishable food rescue and delivery and continually innovates processes and shares methods, to create a better future for everyone.

SOURCE Second Harvest

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