Home Blog April 2016 Why rural food banks need extra help

Why rural food banks need extra help

Why rural food banks need extra help
Most of our population lives in urban centres, with only 20% of Canadians living in rural areas. Yet, 35% of the nation’s food banks are found beyond the city limits.

Why is this significant?
The very differences that distinguish rural from urban areas — lower population density, greater 
distances between people and businesses — also make it that much harder for food banks in small communities and remote areas to help people in need.
For starters, because there is a smaller population base to support these organizations, it’s more difficult for them to raise enough funds to keep operating. It also can make it challenging to operate a food bank.

Thirty-five percent of food banks are located in rural and remote communities. Additionally, 53% of rural food banks are run by volunteers.

And, because there are generally fewer sources for food donations, rural food banks often have to buy essentials to fill in gaps in the food hampers.

Real help for rural areas
One of the greatest challenges faced by rural food banks is the high cost of transportation.

This includes the expense of hiring and purchasing a vehicle. It also includes the significant cost of fuel to cover the distances they must travel to pick up donated food. 

Historically, the Rural Transportation Grant was focused on getting food from urban centres to rural food banks.

Today our Rural Transportation Grant, supported by founding partner Syngenta Canada Inc. and Farm Credit Canada, is still there to help rural food banks struggling with competing demands for their scarce resources.

Fuel or food?
The Humboldt & District Food Bank in Saskatchewan knows first hand the importance of support like this.

“Because we live in a rural community we spend a relatively large amount of money on transporting food to our food bank,” say husband-and-wife volunteer team Kevin and Shirley Reiter.

“Receiving this grant was a tremendous help because we could spend the money on buying more nutritious food to give to our clients instead.”

A growing need
Moreover, 57% of rural food banks experienced an increase in the number of people using their services in 2015, according to our latest HungerCount report. As the need in rural areas continues, so will our support of these food banks and their work in helping underserved communities.


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of food distributed by Canadian food banks is fresh (eg. milk, eggs, fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, bread)