A 1.1-per cent increase in people using the Partners in Mission Food Bank in 2019 is disturbing and new, says Executive Director Dan Irwin.
Irwin says despite what has been considered a strong economy, the charity has seen the number of people they serve consistently increase for the last four years.
“We should be experiencing a decrease, not an increase,” Irwin said, “so that’s a little scary.”
Feed Ontario’s hunger report for 2019 highlights a changing labour market as one of the reasons why demand on food banks is on the rise.
It states that in 1998, the majority of minimum wage workers were high school students. Today, nearly half of minimum wage workers are over 25, the report says.
Irwin says children are also disproportionately represented.
“Children are under 20 per cent of the population, and yet we’re getting 30-33 per cent of them coming to the food bank,” he said.
A food hamper at the food bank is roughly enough to feed a person or family for a week, and each one is tailored to the number of people involved.
Partners in Mission provides between 50 and 60 such hampers each weekday.
Irwin says the the food bank still needs to raise $95,000 over the holiday season to meet its annual budget.
“If we don’t, that means it’s food we’re not going to be able to buy,” Irwin said.
“The numbers we hit now help us purchase food right through until the spring.”
Irwin says they will also have to spend between $10,000 and $15,000 to fix the charity’s walk-in freezer.
Partners in Mission is looking for both food and financial donations, but Irwin says the financial donations have the greatest impact.
“We typically buy pallets of food, so we get better than retail pricing,” he said.
“If you get a phenomenal sale, maybe you’ll get close to us, but most of the time we’re going to beat what you can get in the grocery store.”
In 2018, the Partners in Mission Food Bank served 6,050 clients and gave out a little over 13,000 hampers of food, according to the statistics gathered by Partners in Mission.