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May 18, 2000
Report finds 20 per cent of Torontonians live without basic necessities
The Food and Hunger Action Committee's preliminary report finds a growing food
crisis in the city, with 20 per cent of Torontonians unable to afford basic
needs and facing difficult choices- such as paying rent or buying food.

"We know there is something wrong when every month 50,000 children in this city
depend on food banks for their meals," said Committee Co-chair Pam McConnell,
Councillor for Don River. "One hundred and twenty thousand people are relying
on food banks every month. We estimate 40 per cent of them are children and
another 11 per cent are seniors."

"We cannot call ourselves the greatest city in the world and the best place in
the world to do business when so many people must rely on food banks, meal
programs, volunteers and community groups to have their basic food needs met,"
said Co-chair Chris Korwin-Kuczynski, Councillor for High Park. "We know that
chronic hunger leads to serious health problems in babies, children and
adults. We cannot allow our poorest citizens to suffer permanent health damage
because they don't have enough money to buy groceries."

Cuts by senior levels of government to social programs and a serious lack of
affordable housing are seen as pushing hunger to a critical point in Toronto.
Food security is a complex problem and involves a wide range of issues
including poverty, local agriculture, accessibility of grocery stores, and lack
of transportation. Poor planning has left many communities without access to
grocery stores or other affordable food sources. While emergency programs are
helping to provide short-term solutions to the problem, they are unable to meet
the growing demand or solve the causes of hunger. Research in the area of
health and nutrition also points to serious long-term health implications for
those who chronically go without nutritious food.

Key findings in the report include:
- The service system is straining and food security is a complex issue.
- There are significant regional disparities across Toronto.
- Food programs do make a difference.
- The city already plays a strong role but needs to do more. All levels of
government must do more.

The Committee will consolidate findings of the community consultations into a
final report to City Council in July 2000. The Food and Hunger Action Committee
was struck by City Council in December 1999 with the mandate of improving food
security and access to nutritious food and to reduce hunger in Toronto. The
Committee toured the city to learn first hand about food and hunger issues
directly from program users, providers and experts in the field.

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