'Hunger is not seasonal': How COVID-19 has changed the face of food insecurity in Canada

Boxes wait to be filled with provisions at The Daily Bread Food Bank warehouse in Toronto on Wednesday March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Food banks across Canada saw a surge in clients during the height of the pandemic.

In the past six months, there was a 67 per cent increase in usage at Canada’s largest food bank compared to before the pandemic. In the month of June alone, 124,000 people visited food banks in Toronto.

This Thanksgiving weekend, Life Unmasked speaks with Talia Bronstein, VP of Research and Advocacy at the Daily Bread Food Bank, about how COVID-19 affected their operations and how communities rallied together to help those in need. The team also talks with a food bank client about her experience with COVID-19 and how the volunteers came to her rescue.

On Oct. 9, Daily Bread will be accepting donations between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at 191 New Toronto Street in Etobicoke as part of their annual Thanksgiving drive. Residents are encouraged to take part in the drive-thru event and drop off non-perishable food items.

“The donations that we receive in the Thanksgiving and holiday season are what sustain us all year round,” Bronstein told Life Unmasked, adding that those hardest hit by the pandemic may continue to struggle for months or even years.

“Hunger is not seasonal… But this is the time of year where it's top of mind for people.”

Life Unmasked airs first on the iHeart app every Thursday morning before becoming available on other streaming platforms. If you have questions for the podcast team, or an idea for an episode, please email lifeunmasked@bellmedia.ca.