UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Examining Patterns of Food Bank Use Over Twenty-Five Years in Vancouver, Canada Black, Jennifer L.; Seto, Darlene


Food banks have grown substantially in Canada since the 1980s but little is known about patterns or predictors of engagement including frequency or duration of service use. This study examined food bank program data from a large food bank organization in Vancouver, Canada, finding that between January 1992 and June 2017, at least 116,963 individuals made over 2 million food bank visits. The majority of members were engaged for a short time and came for relatively few visits, but 9% of members engaged in longer-term episodic or ongoing usage over several years, accounting for 65% of all visits. Results from cluster and regression analyses found that documented health and mobility challenges, larger household size, primary income source, and older age were predictors of higher frequency and duration of service usage. Findings add to growing critical examinations of the ‘‘emergency food system’’ highlighting the need for better understanding of the broader social policies influencing food bank use.

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Attribution 4.0 International