Demand doubles at food bank in Oromocto, N.B. driven in part by Canadian Forces members

Click to play video: 'Food bank demand rising near N.B. military base'
Food bank demand rising near N.B. military base
Families around the world are celebrating Easter on Sunday and for many, that means feasts. But the weekend festivities are also serving as another reminder of rising grocery costs throughout the country. As Anna Mandin reports, one New Brunswick food bank says demand has doubled since the pandemic – Mar 31, 2024

The Oromocto and Area Food Bank looks small from the outside, but take a step into one of its back rooms and you’ll find stacks of food. Boxes of spices, canned sauce, and even cat food fill rooms from one end to the other.

But it’s necessary — the food bank’s executive director, Jane Buckley, said demand has doubled in the last couple of years.

“The province of New Brunswick, we have about five per cent of our population who are living in food insecurity, and that doesn’t take any prisoners. I mean, it’s everybody across the board,” she said.

Misty Laagland said she uses the food bank to supplement the disability payments that support her household. She said she tries to only buy the basics, but even then, it can be a challenge.

“It’s really hard sometimes to get by, especially if you want to get healthy,” she said.

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Rising demand from military members

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The food bank is also within minutes of a Canadian Forces Base in Gagetown called 5th Canadian Division Support Base.

Buckley said since the pandemic, the number of military members accessing the food bank has also doubled to 40 to 50 members.

“I think at some level, it’s a concern,” she said, adding that the cost of living is impacting everyone, but military pay could be contributing to the number of members accessing the food bank’s services.

“I wouldn’t say that a lot of higher-ups are using the food bank,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Canadian Armed Forces declined an interview but in an emailed statement said the military takes the matter seriously.

The spokesperson said the Forces are taking a number of measures to support members nation-wide, including inflationary increases to salaries, borrowing and savings programs, and on-base housing.

Buckley said she’s been in touch with people at the base to alleviate some of the issues.

Seniors in need of support a growing concern

It’s not just military members accessing the food bank more. Buckley said she is concerned about a growing number of seniors needing support.

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“These people have lived and worked all their lives, and here they are going into their golden years and they’re not able to feed themselves,” she said.

But she said the community has showed up to meet that growing demand. In addition to local churches, there are nine regiments that contribute to the food bank.

“We are very lucky here that some months we have more food than we need. And we share that food with other food banks in our area,” she said.

And that goes on to support people like Laagland.

“I really appreciate the fact that we have these resources,” she said.

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