About 20 per cent of Canadians skipping meals to deal with food costs, according to report

For months, putting food on the table has become a challenge to many, but a recent survey found some are coping with the cost of eating by sometimes skipping meals.

The survey was conducted by the Canadian Hub for Applied and Social Research out of the University of Saskatchewan.

Nearly 20 per cent of respondents reported skipping meals or reducing meal sizes in order to save money.

At the Glace Bay Food Bank, those numbers didn’t come as a surprise as it’s roughly on par with the uptick they’ve experienced.

“Absolutely not. Not with the cost of groceries and the cost of living, it doesn’t shock me at all,” said Linda MacRae, food bank coordinator. “I would say close to 20 per cent. I really would. I’m surprised we’re keeping up, to be honest with you.”

Among the 1,001 Canadians polled, 59 per cent said they’re coping by decreasing household food waste, 54 per cent reported making meal plans, while 30 per cent said they are eating less healthy food as it’s often cheaper.

“Food bank use and unemployment have always trended together,” said Food Banks Canada CEO Kirsten Beardsley. “This is the first time we’re seeing those decouple trends. We have very low unemployment, and our highest food bank use in Canadian history.”

The majority of survey respondents said they are using coupons, or hunting for sales. Nearly 5 per cent admitted to stealing food out of necessity.

“To go from this situation into what will be job loss, a recession, even tougher economic times, I’m actually really worried about what’s to come,” Beardsley said.

A recent report from Food Banks Canada said visits to food banks increased 15 per cent over the winter, and prices have only gone up since.

“I’m extremely worried what the next few months are going to bring, especially over the winter,” MacRae said.

Nearly 80 per cent of respondents supported an increase in minimum wage, however many opposed strategies that saw an increase or creation of taxes.

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