Toronto, ON – October 5 2010 – For many Canadians, the recession is not over. A mid-year, national survey of more than 140 Salvation Army food service workers from across the country indicates that demand for food programs, including food banks, , meal programs and street ministry units, are on the rise. More than three-quarters of all respondents indicated that requests for food service increased this year. At the same time, food donations in most areas either remained the same or decreased in 2010.
Now, a majority of Salvation Army staff estimate that their food shelves are less than half-full and, in some cases, approaching dangerously low levels. Respondents note that the items in greatest demand include basic grocery items like meat, milk and grains. On a positive note, volunteerism rates at Salvation Army food programs remain high. Among key findings:
81 percent of respondents indicated that requests for food service increased during the previous 12 months; this compares to 73 percent of respondents who noted the trend in 2009;
Fully one-third, 33 percent, of all respondents noted a decrease in donations this year;
An additional 44 percent said donations were unchanged in 2010 despite increased demand;
The Salvation Army in Ontario reported decreased donations at the highest level, with 42 percent of respondents noting a decline; 41 percent of respondents reported low levels of food stocks; Fully 80 percent of all respondents reported positive volunteering trends in the previous 12 months – 29 percent reported more volunteers while 51 percent saw rates hold steady;
62 percent of those surveyed indicated they are certain or very certain they can meet next year’s anticipated demand, despite these difficulties.
“The recession has a long tail. Every day our food service units are helping more and more families and individuals who are still facing difficult financial decisions, such as whether to pay a grocery bill or monthly utilities,” said Commissioner William Francis, leader of The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda. “As The Salvation Army transitions into the Thanksgiving holiday, we are challenged to serve a growing number of Canadians, and we will depend on the public’s support to sustain our mission.”
The second annual report, “Restocking the Shelves 2010,” surveyed 143 Salvation Army officers, employees, staff members and administrators across Canada with firsthand experience in The Salvation Army’s food service programs between July 15th and August 15th 2010. The survey helps to gauge current food stock levels at Salvation Army feeding centres nationwide.
Even as some signs indicate that Canada is now emerging from a global economic recession, more people than ever are relying on social service agencies, like The Salvation Army, to meet basic needs.
These findings are part of a developing trend that The Salvation Army has been tracking since 2008. This year’s report shows that donation rates remained stagnant; two years after the peak of the economic recession, and The Salvation Army is faced with a growth in demand from clients. But there is still hope for the future.
“While the findings indicate that in 2010, many Salvation Army feeding programs faced significant challenges, there is also a sense of enduring optimism for the future – a future that The Salvation Army hopes will be supported by a community of generous donors and volunteers,” said Graham Moore, Territorial Secretary for Public Relations and Development with The Salvation Army
During the Thanksgiving holiday season, The Salvation Army is calling on Canadians to consider donating money or volunteering time to the charities and organizations meeting basic human needs in the local community.
Donors and volunteers can learn more by visiting www.SalvationArmy.ca or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY. The Salvation Army is the largest non-overnmental direct provider of social services in Canada, providing approximately 2.8 million meals to Canadians last year. The detailed findings from “Restocking the Shelves 2010” 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 more than 120 countries around the world. The Salvation Army offers practical assistance for children and families, often tending to the basic necessities of life, provides 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.
For further information please contact:
Territorial Public Relations Director
The Salvation Army