Pandemic pushes demand for emergency food

The number of residents requesting social assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic has dropped but the number of calls related to housing has increased.

York Region’s Social Services suspects the drop in the number of requests for social assistance is because people have a better understanding of the different programs available that could offer financial support, including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

The increase in housing-related calls, meanwhile, may be due to the recent launch of several new rent subsidy programs and an increase in the number of applicants wanting to update their housing applications, according to a Social Services report.

Access to emergency food, meanwhile, remains a high priority among vulnerable residents for several reasons, including loss of income due to COVID-19 and children staying at home and using grocery budgets. Seniors who are self-isolating at home and unable to shop are also contributing to increased demand for food programs.

Demand for food is expected to continue in the coming months, especially when pandemic support funding ends for individuals. The Region is also working to distribute free face coverings – now mandatory in indoor public spaces across York – to those in need.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, York Region has worked in collaboration with community partners to develop and implement actions to respond to the needs of residents. Those actions include enhanced housing and homelessness supports, innovative children’s services, escalated social assistance and income supports, and emergency food access.

York’s social service response is being supplemented with additional funding through the provincial Social Services Relief Fund and the federal Reaching Home Program.

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