Transcript: Food Bank Usage in Ontario | Feb 07, 2020

Jeyan sits in the studio. He's is in his thirties, with short black hair and a trimmed beard. He's wearing a blue suit, white shirt, and spotted burgundy tie.

A caption on screen reads "Ontario Hubs: Turning to food banks. Jeyan Jeganathan. @JeyanTVO. @theagenda."

Jeyan says RENTS, GROCERIES, BILLS, DEBT. THE END OF THE MONTH CAN BE OVERWHELMING FOR SOME. ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO LIVE ALONE. MORE AND MORE ARE TURNING TO FOOD BANKS. IN FACT, ACCORDING TO FOOD BANKS CANADA, ALMOST HALF A MILLION VISITS TO FOOD BANKS LAST YEAR WERE BY ADULTS WHO LIVE ALONE.

An animated slate reads "Ontario Hubs."

An elderly woman with short gray hair steps into a bedroom and says IT'S OVERSIZE, REALLY.

Jeyan says VALENTINA IS THE FIRST TO ADMIT IT'S BEEN AN ADJUSTMENT.

Valentina says I NEED TO GET OUT OF MY GRIEF. OUT OF MY DEPRESSION.

As she shows a framed picture sitting on a night table, she says THIS IS MY HUSBAND. WHAT A NICE LOOKING MAN.

Jeyan says OH, LOOK AT HIM!

He narrates IT'S BEEN ALMOST 10 YEARS SINCE VALENTINA LOST THE LOVE OF HER LIFE.

A black and white picture shows Valentina in her youth.

Jeyan continues BORN IN ITALY HER FAMILY TOOK THE 11-DAY TRIP BY BOAT TO CANADA WHEN SHE WAS ONLY 13. THEY SETTLED IN NIAGARA FALLS. AT 18 SHE FELL IN LOVE AND MARRIED VINCENT. THE TWO MOVED TO TORONTO TO START THEIR CAREERS.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Valentina Merigliano. Food Bank Client."

Valentina sits in a simple living room.

She says MY HUSBAND WORKED FOR MIDAS INTERNATIONAL. AND THE COMPANY WAS MOVED TO CHICAGO IN 1989. AND HE LOST HIS JOB AND IT AFFECTED HIS HEALTH. HE WENT INTO A DEPRESSION.

A picture shows Valentina and a mustached man at around the age of 40.

Jeyan says AS THE YEARS PROGRESSED, HIS HEALTH GOT WORSE. MONEY GOT TIGHT AND VALENTINA AND VINCENT MOVED BACK TO NIAGARA.

Valentina says HE PASSED AWAY WHEN HE WAS 79. I WAS 73 AT THAT STAGE OF MY LIFE. I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO DO. SO I USED TO GO TO VISIT THE CEMETERY EVERY DAY. JUST DIDN'T WANT TO LIVE NO MORE.

She wipes a tear off her face.

Now standing inside the kitchen she says WHEN I COOK FOR TWO PEOPLE, I MAKE A DISH FOR TOMORROW.

Jeyan says FOR THE PAST SIX YEARS, VALENTINA HAS BEEN LIVING IN THIS ONE BEDROOM APARTMENT. SHE'S ON AFFECTED INCOME. WHICH MEANS THERE'S LITTLE WIGGLE ROOM. EVEN FOR GROCERIES. LATELY SHE'S BEEN RELYING ON THE FOOD BANK AT BRODERICK SHARE. ACCORDING TO THE HUNGER COUNT REPORT, THERE ARE ABOUT 1.1 MILLION FOOD BANK VISITS PER MONTH LAST YEAR. THE ANNUAL REPORT GIVES A SNAPSHOT OF FOOD BANK USAGE IN THE COUNTRY.

Fast clips show young people stocking aisles of food at the food bank.

Valentina says IF YOU HAVE AN EDUCATION AND YOU COME FROM A MIDDLE CLASS FAMILY AND WORKED ALL YOUR LIFE, YOU HAVE ALWAYS WORKED FOR YOUR FOOD. AND WHEN YOU GO TO A CHARITABLE PLACE YOU FEEL KIND OF FUNNY.

Jeyan says VALENTINA REPRESENTS AS GROWING DEMOGRAPHIC RELYING ON FOOD BANKS IN CANADA.

A man in his forties standing inside the food bank building says 48 percent... SO ALMOST HALF OF THOSE VISITS WERE SINGLE ADULTS LIVING ALONE.

A chart titled "Single person households" appears on screen comparing the percentage of such households in march 2010 and march 2019.

Jeyan says OVER A NINE-YEAR SPAN, THE NUMBER OF SINGLE-PERSON HOUSEHOLDS ACCESSING FOOD BANKS CLIMBED FROM 38 percent TO 48.

A caption reads "Christopher Hatch. Food Banks Canada C.E.O."

Christopher, the man seen before, says WE'RE SEEING A DISTURBING TREND WHERE MORE AND MORE SENIORS ARE REQUIRING A FOOD BANK IN CANADA EACH MONTH. AND WE SAW 7 percent USE OF FOOD BANKS. AND THAT'S THE HIGHEST WE'VE SEEN IN THAT AGE GROUP.

A bar chart appears showing the rate of increase or decrease by age group between 2016 and 2019.

Jeyan says OVER THE PAST THREE YEARS VISITS BY CANADIANS 65 AND OLDER OUTPACED ANY OTHER AGE GROUP. FROM 2016 TO 2019, THAT GROUP SAW A 30 percent JUMP. BUT THERE'S GOOD NEWS: CANADIANS UNDER 30 ACCESSING FOOD BANKS DROPPED OVER THE LAST THREE YEARS.

A young man steps inside and says LET'S CHECK OVER HERE.

Jeyan says AT PROJECT SHARE, CLIENTS COME ONCE A MONTH FOR NON-PERISHABLE GROCERY ITEMS AND ONCE A WEEK FOR ITEMS LIKE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. ITEMS ARE CATEGORIZED AND WEIGHED AT THE END TO ENSURE EVERYONE GETS A FAIR SHARE. THE REPORT ALSO FOUND THAT 70 percent OF FOOD BANK CLIENTS LIVE IN MARKET RENT HOUSING.

A bar chart shows the increase in the percentage of people living in market rent housing.

Jeyan continues THOSE FIGURES ARE UP 10 percent SINCE 2010. WHILE THOSE LIVING IN SOCIAL HOUSING HAD ACTUALLY SEEN A DROP FROM 26 percent TO 14.

Another chart shows the drop in the percentage of people living in social rent housing.

Christopher says THE FIRST BILL THAT GETS PAID EACH MONTH IS SHELTER. AND AFTER THAT IT'S THEN FOOD, HEAT, MEDICINE, TRANSPORTATION AND THAT'S WHERE THE VARIABLE COMES IN AND THAT'S WHERE THEY GET THE FOOD BANKS MEET. WE HAVE A HOUSING SITUATION THAT'S GETTING WORSE NOT BETTER.

Valentina says I PAYING MARCH 1st, 953 dollars FOR THIS APARTMENT. IT'S NOT WORTH IT.

Jeyan says AFTER WORKING 40 YEARS IN THE BANKING INDUSTRY, VALENTINA'S PENSION BRINGS IN ROUGHLY 1,720 dollars A MONTH. AFTER RENT, SHE'S LEFT WITH 767 dollars THEN THERE'S HER phone BILL, CABLE AND GROCERIES.

Valentina says I HAVE 20 dollars. WANT TO SEE IT?

She laughs, then says I HAVE 20 dollars. IN MY WALLET.

Jeyan says FOOD BANK CANADA IS CALLING ON THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO MAKE SINGLE, LOW-INCOME ADULTS A PRIORITY IN FUTURE POVERTY REDUCTION STRATEGIES. AND TO DEVELOP A BASIC INCOME PILOT PROJECT ACROSS THE COUNTRY. SIMILAR TO THE ONE THAT WAS CANCELLED BY THE CURRENT PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT.

dollars says YOU GOT TO PUT PRIDE ASIDE, OKAY. BECAUSE MY HUSBAND WORKED. I WORKED. WE MADE GOOD MONEY. I COME FROM A GOOD FAMILY. BUT WHAT THE FOOD BANK MEANS TO ME, TO ME IT SAVED MY LIFE.

(music plays)

A caption reads "Ontario Hubs Field Producer, Jeyan Jeganathan, @JeyanTVO. Editor, David Erwin."

An animated slate reads "Ontario Hubs. Ontario Hubs are made possible by The Barry and Laurie Green Family Charitable Trust and Goldie Feldman."

Watch: Food Bank Usage in Ontario