An Economic Analysis of Food Bank Use in Toronto, Canada

Sweeney, Angela
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University of Guelph

Food is more abundant and less costly in Canada, in real terms, than it probably has ever been, yet an estimated 12% of Canadians continue to struggle with food insecurity (Tarasuk et al., 2016). Food banks were established as a temporary response to food insecurity in Canada in the 1980s but have since become institutionalized as the demand for their services continues. To date, two studies have investigated the socioeconomic drivers of food bank use. This research contributes to the literature by investigating additional factors that include the impact of disability status, household size, Indigenous status, subsidized housing status and the 2008 recession on food bank use. The empirical analysis employs a count data modeling approach to datasets obtained from the Toronto Daily Bread Food Bank. The results demonstrate that being income poor, having a larger household, being Indigenous or having a disability significantly increase the reliance on food banks.

Food Bank, Economic, Food Insecurity, Toronto