The Sensitivity of Food Bank Visits to Social Assistance, Housing and Labour Market Conditions in Toronto
We make use of monthly data describing the number of visits to food banks operated by the Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto. We identify the extent to which food bank visits may be associated with changes to public policies, to changes in the cost of shelter and to changes in labour market conditions. Our measures of these changes are those that are relevant to individuals and families with limited incomes and limited abilities to borrow or save. We find that the number of visits to food banks is sensitive to measures of all three of these types of changes; food bank visits increase with increases in rent, with falls in the minimum wage and with reductions in the disability benefits available to people requiring social assistance.
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