With inflation at a 31-year-high, demand at Tri-Cities food banks has increased dramatically.
With both families and single people registering at the food bank each month, SHARE has seen their number of customers swell by 18 percent compared to last year, according to SHARE Family & Community Services CEO Claire MacLean.
“Folks that were doing better are now needing assistance again just to get by and folks that hadn’t needed it previously are feeling the need for support,” MacLean said.
As Canada’s inflation rate rose to 6.8 percent earlier this spring, a CBC report noted that food prices rose 9.7 percent.
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“The cost of food has gone up dramatically, the cost of gas certainly has gone up dramatically,” she said. “Housing obviously continues to be a massive challenge in our community, MacLean said. “People are doing their best to get by day-to-day and just don’t have enough money left over for food at the end of it all.”
In Port Coquitlam, People’s Pantry executive director has found the same trend.
“[Demand is] spiking like you wouldn’t believe,” Eberl said. “We’re getting more registrations every day.”
Many people are forced to look for help due to high living costs, Eberl said, explaining the People’s Pantry has about 30 people on their waitlist.
“Our housing is going up, our food prices are going up, our gas is going through the roof,” Eberl said. “The wages are not.”
How to help
The People’s Pantry provides hampers for hungry people by diverting food from grocery stores that would otherwise be thrown in the garbage. Eberl said the People’s Pantry could get more food and help more people if they had more labour.
“It’s a lack of resources,” she said. “I just don’t have the people for it or the money to be able to handle another employee,” Eberl says.
However, there are a multitude of ways people can help, according to Eberl, who suggested people could donate or volunteer.
“We are in desperate need of drivers,” she said.
Cash donations are the best way to help SHARE, according to MacLean. That money makes it easier to get fresh food to people in need.
However, donations usually slow down in spring, according to MacLean.
“This is always our slowest time of the year,” she said.
It’s also worthwhile to remember that just because someone has a job and a suit doesn’t mean they’re making ends meet.
“Any one of us could need the support,” MacLean said.
Related: Food security in the pandemic: Serving the people by cheating the landfill