TORONTO, July 24, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Feed Ontario (formerly the Ontario Association of Food Banks) released a new study today, revealing that hunger and food bank use exist in every electoral riding in Ontario. The study, which examines food bank use data between January 1st – December 31st 2018, also reveals that Ontario’s food banks were accessed by 507,977 people who visited 3,033,970 times throughout the year – a three percent increase over 2017.

The study was completed in partnership with the Fleming College Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program and presents the findings on an interactive map that allows users to compare provincial electoral ridings across the province, including information on food bank use, mean and median income, and housing. The intention of the project is to help inform visitors to the website that hunger and poverty touch every corner of the province.

“In Ontario, someone visits a food bank every 10 seconds,” says Amanda King, Interim Executive Director at Feed Ontario. “And while food banks are doing their best to assist those in need in their communities, this is a growing problem - and one that needs to be addressed by long-term solutions to poverty.”

The three provincial ridings with the highest per capita rates of food bank use are: Ottawa–Vanier, Hamilton Centre, and Thunder Bay–Atikokan, which are served by the Ottawa Food Bank, Hamilton Food Share, and the Regional Food Distribution Association, respectively.


The Ottawa Food Bank serves over 57,600 individuals per year across six ridings, who access food banks and agencies over 289,800 times annually. In 2018, the Ottawa–Vanier riding had the highest concentration per capita of food bank use in the province, with 16,537 people visiting 80,332 times throughout the year.

“It is deeply concerning that the provincial riding with the highest per capita food bank usage in Ontario is located in a city as wealthy as Ottawa,” says Michael Maidment, CEO of the Ottawa Food Bank. “This report underscores the urgent need for concrete, long-term solutions that have a measurable impact on the root causes of poverty.”


Hamilton Food Share serves over 30,300 individuals per year across four ridings, who access food banks and agencies over 234,000 times annually. In 2018, the Hamilton Centre riding had the second highest concentration per capita of food bank use in the province, with 12,300 people visiting 111,828 times throughout the year.

“On a typical day in Hamilton over 700 people will cross the threshold of a food bank seeking help, where 70 percent derive their income from provincially funded Ontario Disability Support Program and Ontario Works. This map should set off alarm bells,” says Joanne Santucci, Executive Director of Hamilton Food Share. “The hunger gap is growing and will continue to do so without a meaningful provincial anti- poverty strategy.”

Thunder Bay

The Regional Food Distribution Association serves Northwestern Ontario, an area approximately the size of France. Emergency food distribution to this area includes deliveries to fly-in communities, over ice roads in the winter, and by barge in the summer. As indicated in the map’s methodology, there is insufficient food bank use data for the ridings of Kenora–Rainy River, Kiiwetinoong, and Mushkegowuk–James Bay to accurately convey the food insecurity crisis that individuals and families in Northern Ontario are facing. In 2018, the Thunder Bay–Atikokan riding had the third highest concentration per capita of food bank use in the province, with 8,276 people visiting 27,488 times throughout the year.

“Hunger is a very real and very present danger in our community and region,” says Volker Kromm, Executive Director of the Regional Food Distribution Association. "As costs rise in every facet of life, we are seeing a rising trend in those who need food banks and, further, those who are needing them more often. This is putting a great strain on our ability to adequately serve our neighbours in need.”

Feed Ontario is calling on the provincial government to implement policies that address the root causes of hunger. With the majority of food bank visitors being Ontario Works (OW) or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) recipients, these recommendations including reducing clawbacks for those trying to re-enter the workforce, and ensuring that the definition of ‘disability’ for ODSP recipients remains inclusive of episodic illnesses. Additionally, Feed Ontario recommends continued investments in affordable housing and improvements to the economic opportunities available to Ontarians.

“Food banks across the province provide emergency food support to more than half a million people each year,” says King. “It is our hope that this map will help inform policy makers and our elected officials about a growing problem that exists in every riding in Ontario, and that they will work to find long-term solutions that address hunger and poverty in the communities that they serve.”

To access Feed Ontario’s interactive map, please visit:

For further information on Feed Ontario and its research, please visit:  

Food Bank Use by Provincial Electoral Riding (January 1st, 2018 – December 31st, 2018):

Note: The data below highlights the top 10 provincial electoral ridings with the highest per capita concentration of food bank use in Ontario. It is important to note that food bank catchment areas do not align with electoral riding boundaries. As a result, many food banks serve multiple electoral ridings, and equally many electoral ridings may be served by multiple food banks. The numbers below alone should not be attributed to the service of any one particular food bank. Further, this study only includes food bank use data from Feed Ontario member food banks.

 Provincial Electoral RidingFood Bank Use Per CapitaTotal Number of Unique Individuals Total Number of Visits
Ottawa–Vanier15 in 10016,53780,332
Hamilton Centre12 in 10012,300111,828
Thunder Bay–Atikokan11 in 1008,27627,488
Kitchener Centre10 in 10010,41172,825
Ottawa South9 in 10010,53353,824
Windsor West9 in 10010,56464,065
London–Fanshawe8 in 1009,95945,348
Windsor–Tecumseh8 in 1008,86051,543
Ottawa West–Nepean8 in 1008,48045,145
London North Centre7 in 1008,38334,765

The interactive map was created by students of Fleming College post-graduate Geographic Information Systems Specialist program, Jordan Sparrow and Nihal Garach. For the project’s methodology, please visit:

About Feed Ontario

From securing fresh and healthy food sources to driving change through policy research and innovative programming, Feed Ontario unites food banks, industry partners, and local communities in its work to end poverty and hunger. Join us as we Feed Ontario and help build a healthier province. Every $1 raised provides the equivalent of 3 meals to an Ontarian in need. Learn more at:

About Ottawa Food Bank

The Ottawa Food Bank is the main emergency food provider in the National Capital Region. Through a network of 114 community food programs, the Ottawa Food Bank provides food for over 37,520 people per month – 36 per cent of whom are children. Thanks to the community’s support, on average 12 to 14 tons of food is distributed from their Michael Street warehouse every weekday. For more information regarding the Ottawa Food Bank and how you can help provide healthy, accessible, sustainable food for all, please visit

About Hamilton Food Share

Hamilton Food Share takes healthy and good product deemed surplus and un-salable by food industry standards and redirects it onto the tables of the people who need it the most. Last year, Hamilton Food Share raised and distributed over 3.35 million pounds of food, of which 65% was fresh or frozen. A donation made to Hamilton Food Share benefits hungry people throughout our community since we provide food for emergency programs in every corner of the city. To learn more, please visit:

About Regional Food Distribution Association

The Regional Food Distribution Association (RDFA) was formed in June 2003 to develop and implement a coordinated strategy for the delivery of donated food to community organizations who provide for those with food shortage. Its current membership includes food distributing agencies from the city of Thunder Bay, Ontario and Region. The RFDA is a proud supporter of remote First Nation communities, through emergency food shipments, and food sovereignty initiatives.  Collectively we are working towards a food secure network of vibrant communities. To learn more, please visit:

For more information, please contact:

Amanda King, Interim Executive Director, Feed Ontario, 416-656-4100 x2932