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Harvest Manitoba report reflects growing food, economic insecurity across province

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Harvest Manitoba report reflects growing food, economic insecurity across province
Harvest Manitoba report reflects growing food, economic insecurity across province – Dec 1, 2022

Manitobans continue to struggle with food insecurity, according to a new report.

Harvest Manitoba’s second annual Harvest Voices survey, released Thursday, is a large-scale study about the use of food banks and how economic instability affects those who need them.

Among the report’s findings: food bank usage in Winnipeg has doubled since 2019.

“This report gives us a picture of who our clients are, the challenges they face every day, and the help they need,” said Harvest’s director of network, advocacy and education, Meaghan Erbus.

“It’s just one snapshot of the real-world impact of food insecurity and poverty in our province, and we’ve found that 24 per cent of the clients we now serve are employed.

“The report also has several eye-opening personal stories that should inspire us to work for a future where no Manitoban goes hungry.”

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In addition to an increase in food bank clients with jobs, Harvest — a network of food banks and agencies that feed more than 90,000 Manitobans each month — says it’s seen a whopping 40 per cent increase in demand since this time last year.

An increasing number of those are families, with 15,000 children fed by Harvest in October alone.

Harvest has also seen a rise in Indigenous clients, representing nearly half of those who use its services across the province, although numbers are increasing for all demographics across the board.

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According to the study, more than 40 per cent of respondents said they sometimes don’t have enough to eat, and 54 per cent said they’ve had to skip a meal in the past month because they needed the money to pay for other expenses.

“Inflation has taken a toll on food bank recipients. Prices continue to rise for nearly everything we buy, in particular food,” said Harvest president and CEO Vince Barletta.

“As a result, the amount of people we serve has doubled since 2019.”

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Harvest isn’t the only organization trying to meet the increased demand. Siloam Mission’s Luke Thiessen told 680 CJOB’s The Start there’s a rise in people — who are not necessarily homeless — on the doorstep looking for a hot meal.

Over the past year, from October to October, Siloam almost doubled the number of meals it served.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase now that’s been pretty sustained over the past year or so,” Thiessen.

“Through this year and especially since the spring, it’s just up and up and up beyond what we could have imagined.

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“It’s not necessarily people who are experiencing homelessness actively. In some cases, it’s people who did experience homelessness, who transitioned into housing, but are having trouble keeping that, because it’s hard to afford the rent and the groceries when both of those things are going up — especially the food costs.”

Thiessen said it’s been a struggle to keep food ingredients on Siloam’s shelves, as more than 90 per cent of food served at the mission comes from donations.

“It’s more difficult for individuals and businesses to be donating the raw ingredients that we need, so collection events have become extra important for us, going to grocery stores and getting people to put extra things in their cart.

“But even there, we’re seeing that people are struggling…. We can see that everyone’s feeling the pinch.”

Click to play video: 'Food bank usage in Manitoba'
Food bank usage in Manitoba

 

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