VIDEO: More Seniors Relying on Food Banks

More seniors are seeking help to keep food on their table.

A new report from the Ontario Association of Food Banks has found the number of seniors heading to food banks jumped 10% province-wide.

Locally, June Muir of the Unemployed Help Centre says Windsor-Essex sits well above the provincial average after a 16% increase over the past year.

She blames the increase on rising costs combined with a fixed income which has pushed many seniors below the poverty line.

"They want to make sure that they don't lose their house, they don't get their heat shut off, their heating or their gas or their electrical bills," says Muir. "They want to make sure they're up to date with that. So the last thing they'll be able to purchase is food."

Downtown Mission Executive Director Ron Dunn tells CTV Windsor money just isn't going as far as it used to for seniors.

"It's difficult these days to stay ahead of it. So more people are turning to the Mission and places like ours," he said. "In one way it's a blessing that we're here and we're able to do it, but in another way it's such a look at a larger problem."

Phyllis Farandatos volunteers at the Downtown Mission and says she'd have a hard time getting by without her husband's pension.

I wouldn't be able to live on my pension. There's no way because when I was growing up and working, women didn't make as much as men," said Farandatos. "So I'm sure with the age limit now and women living longer that that's why you see more women out on the street."

According to the association's report, half-a-million people accessed food bank services between April 2017 and March 2018 — up slightly from the previous year.

The report also states the majority of seniors using food banks are living in rental or social housing, with soaring housing costs playing a major part in their decision to not own a home.