More than 400,000 Ontarians turn to food banks every month, said Mike Balkwill of Put Food in the Budget, which is organizing a daylong forum for about 50 students from Yorkdale Secondary School and West End Alternative Secondary School.

“Hunger is a symptom of poverty. And poverty is about low income,” he said.

“Social assistance rates are too low to ensure people have enough money for food after paying rent. People on minimum wage are going to food banks because minimum wage still keeps them below the poverty line,” added Balkwill, whose provincial group is pushing to raise welfare rates and the minimum wage.