As inflation continues to drive up the cost of living, including food prices, far more people are turning to organizations like food banks for help.
According to Major Paul Trickett, head of the Penticton Salvation Army Food Bank, they’ve nearly doubled the amount of ‘grab and go bags’ being given out each day.
“I would estimate we were doing around 75 to 100 a year, a year and a half ago. Now we’re up over 200 bags a day, every single day of the week,” said Trickett.
“We’re also doing 20 to 30 hammers a day as well and providing clothing and different things for people as they need.”
He went on to say that the type of people that they are serving has drastically changed.
“The scary thing that I’m finding right now is senior citizens, our big demographic that we haven’t seen in the past, that it’s getting scary the amount of senior citizens that are coming to get what we call our grab-and-go bags every day,” said Trickett.
“It’s increasing month to month. It’s getting worse and worse as we see food prices rising and as the cost of living, gas, everything like that people are stretched and just can’t feed themselves.”
The Salvation Army Food Bank isn’t the only organization feeling the pinch of rising food costs. Food and other items have been flying off the shelves at Penticton’s Community Fridge and Pantry.
The space opened in March and has been in high demand since.
“The demand is much higher than we had ever anticipated. We have. We have a hard time really keeping this thing filled at all,” said Penticton’s Community Fridge and Pantry co-founder Dave Corbeil.
“We restock once or twice a day and we seem to have upwards of 40 visits from people, so it gives you an idea that it frankly is very, very difficult to keep it stocked.”
The barrier-free space relies on a take what you need and give what you can system, but the pair have enlisted the help of local organizations to fill the gap.
“It’s incredibly rewarding the number of businesses that have jumped on board and the constant stream of individuals that just drop with small or large bags each day,” said Penticton’s Community Fridge and Pantry co-founder.
“We will notice a drop off because we’ve been working with the Farmers Market and of course, that ends this week. So, we will be in great need of fresh produce and so on.”
Meanwhile, the Salvation Army says donations have stayed the same, steady, but the need is far exceeding what is coming in.
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“I’ve been running the Salvation Army here for four years now. For my first two years, we didn’t even buy food, that’s how much food was coming in,” said Trickett.
“The same amount is coming in and we are now purchasing thousands and thousands of dollars worth of food to keep up.”
Both organizations say food and money donations are needed now more than ever.
“I would just really encourage people to remember your neighbor may be the person that needs to help. It may be a family member that you don’t even know. It’s the people all around you that are coming for help these days,” said Trickett.
“So, putting money in a kettle, putting food in a food bin really does make a difference in our community.”
One way to donate is to the Salvation Army Kettle Campaign, which begins in November. The donations go beyond just the holiday season.