December 31, 2018 3:49 pm
Updated: December 31, 2018 6:06 pm

‘We’re very concerned’: New Brunswick’s food bank usage numbers climb in 2018

WATCH: Food bank usage across New Brunswick has seen a spike in usage in 2018. As Callum Smith reports, roughly 25,000 New Brunswickers used food bank services — including soup kitchens — each month in 2018.

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Food bank usage across New Brunswick has seen a spike in usage this year.

“It was probably up 15 per cent over last year,” says Laurie Stewart, president of the New Brunswick Association of Food Banks.

“Because of the economy and the way things are,” he explains. “People were out of work. We seem to have more seniors that are going to need some help.”

READ MORE: Seniors’ food insecurity, usage concerns raised by New Brunswick food banks

Laurie Stewart, president of New Brunswick Association of Food Banks, says usage is on the rise across the province.

Callum Smith / Global News

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Roughly 25,000 people used food bank services — including soup kitchens — each month in 2018, according to Stewart.

He says 30 per cent of those who use food banks in New Brunswick are children.

“That’s probably one of the main reasons we do it,” he says.

“Children shouldn’t go hungry. They shouldn’t go to school hungry, they shouldn’t come home hungry.”

But an increase in usage means more food needs to be coming in. Both Stewart and Dale Hicks, president of the Food Depot Alimentaire, say the community stepped up and donated more this year.

“That’s a good thing,” says Hicks. “But it’s a catch-22 because you’re hoping that you wouldn’t need to have more food.”

Dale Hicks, president of the Food Depot Alimentaire, says without a change in the economy or increased minimum wages, numbers could continue to climb.

Callum Smith / Global News

But with no immediate solution in sight, the numbers could continue to rise.

“Until the economy turns around and until wages increase a little bit, we’re probably going to have the same level of demand, if not more than we have now,” said Hicks.

Stewart agrees, saying: “We’re very concerned because we don’t see it changing.”

WATCH: Global News coverage of food bank initiatives across Canada

Stewart says now that a government is in place in New Brunswick again, he’ll be looking for assistance as his organization tries to expand the Food Depot Alimentaire, which distributes food for all 61 food banks across the province.

“If we can get more food in, that means we can send more food out,” he says.

“But we have to have more room to put it so we can transfer it to different orders.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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