Saskatoon Food Bank sees ‘very concerning’ record numbers
SASKATOON – The Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre is feeling the pinch amid the weak Canadian economy. Staff are seeing record numbers of people come through the doors.
In 2015 over 70,000 baskets were distributed, helping feed nearly 200,000 people.
On a person per month basis, “we’ve seen some large jumps over the last couple of years from 12,000 to 15,000 and last year to 18,000,” says food bank executive director Laurie O’Connor.
“Unfortunately in the last couple months of this year we’ve seen over 20,000 people,” says O’Connor.
“Those are record numbers for us and very concerning to us.”
“I don’t know if that’s a trend I can say will plateau any time soon. We continue to monitor that.”
The food bank is now giving out 7,500 baskets monthly. With the high cost of food, O’Connor worries some donors may not be able to give what they previously could. She says this means the food bank will have to make some adjustments.
“What it means for us is that we have to look at what our shelves are looking like, how much stock we have in the back and really analyze our services and how we are going to be able to support,” says O’Connor.
The Friendship Inn is also feeling the pinch. A rise in users means they’re now serving more than ever before.
“We’ve had a 26 per cent increase over the last year so we are serving about a thousand meals a day,” says Friendship Inn executive director Sandra Stack.
According to the University of Guelph Food Institute, food inflation rates across Canada are expected to rise between two and four per cent. Meats, nuts and fruits will have the highest price increases.
For Canadians this means the average household could spend up to $345 more on groceries this year.
To support the Saskatoon Food Bank during this critical time, local Safeway stores will be hosting a food drive March 18 to 24. Customers can purchase $5 or $10 food hampers at the checkout, which will go towards helping replenish the food bank’s shelves.
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