Food Banking in Canada
The first food bank in Canada opened its doors in 1981 in Edmonton, Alberta. While food banks were originally intended to be a temporary measure, the need for them continued — and in fact grew.
Today, there are more than 800 food banks and 3,000 food programs in Canada. Most people are aware that food banks offer food assistance. They may not be familiar with the variety of different types of programs offered. These include:
- sharing hampers of food and personal care products,
- preparing and serving meals from soup kitchens,
- operating snack programs,
- providing post-secondary campus food programs,
- running community kitchens,
- organizing community gardens.
In addition, the people who turn to food banks often need other types of assistance. Food banks have responded and many now provide advocacy and supports such as:
- providing skills training such as food preparation skills,
- helping people to search for jobs and transition into employment,
- raising community awareness about hunger and poverty,
- assisting with the search for safe, affordable housing,
- helping people find good quality, affordable child care,
- providing referrals to other social agencies and support services.
Most food banks and food programs depend heavily on volunteers for much or all of their operational activities. In fact, close to 40% of food banks are run solely by volunteers. Their important work is made possible through contributions from corporate sponsors, individual donations, community support, parent organizations, and Food Banks Canada.