When times are tough, many families turn to food banks.

“Four million Canadians are living in households where there’s a struggle to afford the food that they need,” said Valerie Tarasuk, a professor of nutritional science at the University of Toronto. “That is a big problem.”

At St. Paul’s on-the-Hill Community Food Bank in Pickering, some shelves are almost empty: A result of a slowdown in donations over the summertime and the economy as many people have lost jobs.

“They’re lined up outside before we’re even open, “said Mae Herridge, a volunteer. “A lot of them have young children.”

Anti-poverty advocates have learned to welcome crumbs from the Ontario Liberals.

That is what they got in the five-year poverty reduction strategy unveiled by Deputy Premier Deb Matthews last week. The 56-page blueprint consisted of recycled promises, long-term goals, soothing language and self-congratulations (despite the fact she fell far short of her last five-year target.)

Toronto is failing more than a quarter of its children.

A new study concludes that child poverty has reached “epidemic” levels, with 29 per cent of children — almost 149,000 — living in low-income families. Even more disturbing: that figure has actually been on the rise for the last two years.

That’s right. After gradually declining to 27 per cent in 2010 from a high of 32 per cent in 2004, the city’s child poverty rate has increased once again.

In some areas it’s much worse: 15 of Toronto’s 140 neighbourhoods have child poverty rates of 40 per cent or more, while 40 have poverty rates of 30 per cent or more.

Last week, people of the province were shocked to learn the story of Lewis Kearney, a St. John’s man who appeared in court to answer charges of theft for taking $40 worth of food from a local grocery store.

Kearney, who relies on income support totaling $115 per week, turned to crime when government subsidies for heat and light bills were cut and his financial situation became impossible. After the story broke, there was an outpouring of sympathy for Kearney in the form of food donations, and the provincial government quickly responded to his earlier requests for assistance with health-related issues.

There may be more hunger in the city than you think.

A new study reveals nearly one thousand people rely on food assistance every day.

Kingston’s food providers have unveiled their first ever report that paints a “clear and startling” picture of food insecurity.

“It’s not glamourous but it packs a punch with data we’ve not seen before,” said Mara Shaw, executive director of Loving Spoonful.

An Ottawa food bank is saying no thank you to Kraft Dinner, hot dogs and dozens of other items deemed unhealthy.

Parkdale Food Centre co-ordinator Karen Secord says everybody deserves good-quality food – even those who can’t afford it.

“I don’t want canned stew, Alpha-Getti, Kraft Dinner, pop, chips, candy,” Secord told CTV Ottawa.

Parkdale Food Centre co-ordinator Karen Secord says everybody deserves good-quality foods – even those who can’t afford it.

Going through a box of donated food items, Secord is quick to take some pieces out of the mix. Among the items that failed to make the cut are: a box of Dunkaroos, a package of Maynards Swedish Berries, an opened bottle of salad dressing that expired in 2008 and an opened container of Hot Rod meat snacks.

10. Canada already promised to end poverty

9. Poverty can happen to anyone

8. Poverty actually affects how long people live

7. Poverty affects people’s quality of life, including their health

6. Poverty is a major barrier to overcome before Canada can present itself as a country that recognizes equality

5. Canada’s lack of action to end poverty is shameful

4. Canada has been scolded by the international community for not addressing poverty issues

3. We have no excuse not to

2. Poverty costs Canadians A LOT of money

1. Canada is LEGALLY obligated to address poverty