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Durham Region food banks struggle to keep up with increased demand during pandemic

Durham food banks struggle to keep up with increased demand
WATCH: It's no secret that the demand at food banks has sky rocketed since the pandemic started. While the need for donations has increased, supply has been dwindling. Aaron Streck reports.

It’s no secret that the demand at food banks has sky rocketed since the COVID-19 pandemic started. While the need for donations has increased, supply has been dwindling.

Twice a week, Gillian Daly travels from Port Perry to help feed some of the most vulnerable in Whitby.

She started volunteering at the Kendalwood Church Food Bank in March.

“It’s not just about coming to pack stuff into boxes. We’re relatable to these people because we could be any one of them at anytime,” said Daly.

And it’s a job she doesn’t take lightly.

“We say a prayer for them and we pack it like we were shopping for our own selves, so everybody does everything from an aspect of love,” said Daly.

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The once small food bank has grown dramatically in the past several weeks.

Read more: Toronto-based food bank sees surge in clients amid pandemic-related food insecurity

Marcia White says they now need about 60,000 pounds of food a month.

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“In the beginning of January, we were like 35 to 40 clients, families for a month and last week we did 163 families, so that is way over 350 individuals,” said White, Kendalwood Church Food Bank coordinator.

While they’ve relied heavily on community donations through this time, White says they’ve declined of late.

“We have to go wherever we can to get food. We have been to Toronto, we have been all around Durham Region — anywhere we can find food or we hear about food, we have to go and get food,” said White.

The Kendalwood Church Food Bank is one of over 50 that Feed The Need In Durham supports.

Since March, they’ve distributed over 640,000 pounds of food, more than half what they would normally do in an entire year.

“We haven’t stopped. We are very much essential to our community over the last several months,” said Ben Earle, executive director of Feed The Need In Durham.

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While the shelves are somewhat bare now, Earle is confident donations will continue to roll in.

However, he’s concerned about the long recovery period in the months ahead.

“After every economic recession over the past 30 years, food bank use has gone up and stayed up and we anticipate that happening now and we anticipate the recovery period to be a little tougher than the immediate period we just gone through,” said Earle.

While the need is expected to grow in the days and weeks ahead, those at the Kendalwood Church Food Bank say they’re already having capacity issues and increased demand may require a new facility.

Durham municipalities not rushing stage 3 reopen
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