Canadians using food banks at record levels: charity

Tue Nov 25, 2008 12:02pm EST
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Working Canadians are turning to food banks in record numbers and the demand is set to increase as the global financial crisis hits harder and people take lower-paying jobs, a leading charity said on Tuesday.

Food Banks Canada said a record 14.5 percent of Canadian households with at least one working adult were receiving help from food banks, up from 11.9 percent in 2002.

Despite a decade of healthy economic growth, food bank use remains 6 percent higher than in 1997.

Around 700,000 of Canada's 33 million population -- a third of them children -- are helped by a food bank each month, said the association, which represents food bank operations across the country.

"More people assisted by food banks are working. We are seeing this trend right across the country," said Katharine Schmidt, executive director of Food Banks Canada.

"Individuals and families are struggling as well-paying jobs are replaced by those that do not provide adequate wages, and that are more likely to be part-time or temporary," she said in a statement.

Schmidt called on the federal government to increase benefits paid to the working poor and to children.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Rob Wilson)