MYTHS AND FACTS
Facts about Hunger and Poverty in Manitoba
This document covers facts about:
- Children and Poverty
- Homelessness in Winnipeg
- Rural Communities
- Women and Poverty
- Poverty and Children’s Health
Quick Facts – Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Harvest.
Food & More – A short review of the many programs we offer in addition to being a food bank.
Myths about Hunger and Poverty
- People using Winnipeg Harvest are too lazy to work.
At least half of the volunteers at Winnipeg Harvest are people who need emergency food themselves and who work hard to give something back. The reasons people find themselves in difficulty are many: some are students juggling loans and part-time jobs; some experience an unexpected illness in the family and loss of income as a result; marriage break-up’s often lead to less family income; many struggle to make ends meet with small disability or social assistance cheques or are seniors on fixed incomes with rising house expenses; 18% are people who work full or part time or are between jobs and collecting employment insurance. No one chooses to be poor or hungry.
- People use Winnipeg Harvest like a free grocery store.
People call Harvest and make an appointment and can only access emergency food twice a month from the food bank. They are registered through their Manitoba medical number. The emergency food they receive lasts approximately two days. 15.5% of people needing food through Winnipeg Harvest had only one appointment in 2004, suggesting short-lived emergencies like sudden illness or loss of job.
- My tax dollars are being wasted at the food bank.
Winnipeg Harvest does not receive operational funds from governments or the United Way. We rely on donations of food, time and money from the community. Last year, almost 13.7 million pounds of food moved through our warehouse to neighbourhood food banks. Much of this food is inside damaged packages or dented containers but is still of good quality. Twenty five years ago, it would have ended up in the landfill. Now this food comes to Harvest to feed the hungry. This operates without tax dollars.
- Children rely on Winnipeg Harvest because their parents waste money gambling and smoking.
Almost half of the people living in poverty in Canada are single mothers. Manitoba continues to have the worst child poverty rate in the country. Children are poor because their parents are poor. A Canadian study shows after a marriage separation, women immediately lose 23% of family income. Poor people spend a disproportionate amount of their incomes on rent and often take money from their food budget to cover shelter expenses. Parents who are poor routinely report going without food themselves to make sure their children eat. Cigarettes are an addiction and many believe smoking helps reduce depression and suppress appetites. Lottery tickets and other forms of gambling are advertised representing hope of escape.
- Poor people don’t know how to budget properly.
People working full time earning minimum wage make just over $16,575 (before tax) annually. Welfare rates are similar. It costs over $7,000 annually to rent a two bedroom apartment. It takes much creativity, and sacrifice, to pay for everything else on just $5,000 annually: food, transportation, clothing, heating, phone, childcare, medications and dental care. Budgeting is not the problem. Not enough money to make ends meet is the problem, leading many to the food bank.