/R E P E A T -- Salvation Army Sees an Increase in Families Seeking Assistance/

Oct 03, 2012, 10:00 ET from THE SALVATION ARMY

Fourth Annual Survey Finds Demand for Food Services Continuing to Rise

TORONTO, Oct. 3, 2012 /CNW/ - The latest report from The Salvation Army, "Feeding Canada's Families: A Report on Salvation Army Food Services," revealed that more and more families are turning to Salvation Army food programs and centres for assistance. Approximately three-quarters of the nearly 170 food programs that responded to the annual survey of Salvation Army food programs reported seeing an increase in families seeking food services assistance year-to-year. This news comes as almost a third of Salvation Army food banks reported seeing a decrease in donations at their centres within the last 12 months, a particularly troubling statistic, especially after last year's encouraging findings that 32 percent of centres were seeing an increase in donations.

"Each year around the Thanksgiving holiday, The Salvation Army conducts this survey to evaluate our food programs and each year the results are eye-opening to learn of the incredible need that exists throughout Canada," said Graham Moore, Public Relations & Development Secretary for The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda. "With donations down and client demand up, we hope that the people of Canada will respond with the generosity and empathy we have come to rely on by volunteering with or donating to The Salvation Army."

Not all news coming out of this year's report was bad, including the statistic that the vast majority, 80 percent, of clients that visit The Salvation Army for a meal eat with others and rarely alone. Sitting down for a hot meal with friends and family is something that many of us take for granted, and, with more people walking through The Salvation Army's doors, it is promising to see that many clients have a sense of normalcy and community during mealtime.

Additional findings from this year's report include:

  • 66 percent of food banks and soup kitchens reported that their shelves are currently half-full to completely full.
  • 30 percent of food banks reported a decrease in donations from year-to-year with the plurality of respondents, 48 percent, noting no change.
  • Approximately 62 percent of Salvation Army food banks reported an increase in clients
  • Year to year, more food banks, 66 percent, reported that their shelves were half-full to completely full in comparison to surveys conducted in 2011 (64 percent) and 2010 (55 percent).

While many facilities are seeing an increase in families requesting assistance, there is also an emergence of programs that have services in place to meet their needs including meal planning, day care, after school programs and emergency services.

"We were pleased to learn that many of our food programs are beginning to offer services designed specifically for the needs of children and families," said Moore. "As long as they require the services offered by The Salvation Army, we will be here to provide them, as we have for the last 130 years."

This is the fourth annual survey of this kind, designed to gain a better understanding of the needs across Canada.  To gather this data, The Salvation Army conducted an internal survey between July and August 2012 to learn about the current food stock levels and trends at Salvation Army feeding centres nationwide. One hundred and sixty-seven staff members and administrators with first-hand experience working within The Salvation Army's food service programs responded to the survey. Salvation Army feeding programs include food banks, food pantries, meal programs and street ministry outreach.

Donors and volunteers can learn more by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY or by visiting www.SalvationArmy.ca.  The Salvation Army is the nation's largest non-governmental direct provider of social services, providing approximately 2.8 million meals to Canadians last year. The detailed findings from "Feeding Canada's Families: A Report on Salvation Army Food Services" are available online at www.SalvationArmy.ca.

About The Salvation Army:
The Salvation Army is an international Christian organization that began its work in Canada in 1882 and has grown to become the largest non-governmental direct provider of social services in the country. The Salvation Army gives hope and support to vulnerable people today and everyday in 400 communities across Canada and in 125 countries around the world. The Salvation Army offers practical assistance for children and families, often tending to the basic necessities of life, providing shelter for homeless people and rehabilitation for people who have lost control of their lives to an addiction. When you give to The Salvation Army, you are investing in the future of marginalized and overlooked people in your community.

News releases, articles and updated information can be found at www.SalvationArmy.ca