Kingston, Ont. food insecurity services feeling inflation squeeze

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Kingston, Ont., food insecurity services feeling inflation squeeze
WATCH: Food banks, meal programs and other food insecurity services in Kingston, Ont., are all feeling the pressure as food prices skyrocket and more people require the services – Sep 29, 2022

For months now, many Canadians have been feeling the squeeze of inflation affecting a variety of items, especially food.

The story is no different in Kingston, Ont., where an increase in service needs paired with rising food costs have put them in overdrive.

The consumer price index for food in Canada is at its worst since the early 1980s and people across the country are feeling the economic pressures.

Regular trips to the grocery stores have been hampered by sky high prices for average families.

Local agencies that provide food to those in need say they’ve felt the trickle down effect of food cost inflation.

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“This year we’ve seen a 19.4-per cent increase in our food hamper distribution over last year, which was a record year for us,” said Dan Irwin, who is the executive director at Partners in Mission Food Bank in Kingston.

“We’re really in a state of flux trying to adapt, and making sure that we’re making the most of the money that we do have, being good stewards, but also meeting the needs of our clients,” added St. Vincent de Paul Society of Kingston Executive Director Judy Fyfe.

Both say their clientele has changed as a result as well.

The food insecurity services have seen an increase of frequency from people who already used them as well as new clientele, including families with children.

However, this is not the only side effect of soaring food prices.

Elaine Power is a professor at the Queen’s University School of Kinesiology and Health Studies.

She said there’s more to it than just the economic effect.

“People start ditching whole categories of food. So, you know, fruits and vegetables maybe are gone,” said Power.

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She said that the rising prices in good quality foods drives people to cut costs by buying less healthy options, which, in turn, could lead to negative health effects.

“We need to increase our Ontario Works and our Ontario Disability Support Programs up to a sustainable level,” said Irwin.

He said that the federal and provincial governments need to step in to help curb the issue.

Fyfe added that governments need to do more to support food banks in order to help keep the people who rely on them fed.

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