Winnipeg Harvest Fact Sheets

This document covers facts about:

  • Winnipeg Harvest
  • Children and Poverty
  • Homelessness in Winnipeg
  • Rural Communities
  • Women and Poverty
  • Poverty and Children’s Health

Winnipeg Harvest Facts & Stats

  • Winnipeg Harvest provided emergency food assistance to nearly 64,000 Manitobans in 2017.
  • Manitoba is the number two province for children using a food bank with more than 41 per cent.
  • Since 2008, there has been a 58 per cent increase in food bank use—the highest rate of increase among the provinces.
  • Last year, Winnipeg Harvest moved more than 11 million pounds of food.
  • Winnipeg Harvest has 12 trucks on the road 6 days a week, including 3 cargo vans, 6 cube vans and 3 five-tons.
  • Winnipeg Harvest picks up donated and reclaimed food from major grocery retailers – with more than 1,200 pickups a month.
  • Last year, the referrals department handled 463,603 clients by appointment.
  • Winnipeg Harvest clients receive enough food to last about two to three days.
  • More than 50 per cent of Winnipeg Harvest volunteers are former or current clients of a food bank.
  • In 2017, volunteers donated nearly 166,245 hours equivalent to 80 full-time jobs.

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 Winnipeg 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. Around 16 per cent of people needing food through Winnipeg Harvest had only one appointment in 2004, suggesting short-lived emergencies like sudden illness or loss of a 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 the 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.