Due to Canada’s inflation rate continuously rising, which in turn has increased food costs, the Moose Jaw & District Food Bank has seen a 38 per cent increase in users through its first quarter of 2022.
Terri Smith, the food bank’s Operation Manager, says in her 19 years with the organization she has never seen client rates this high.
“It’s a little shocking and it’s really hard cause it’s really hitting our food supply, normally when we get through our food and monetary (supply) we can keep up every year, this year we’re really struggling,” says Smith.
“The last two years with no major food drives or not a whole lot going on, it was hard to keep up. Now that things are sort of normal there are more food drives opening up. We need help to help those in need and we could really use your support,” adds Smith.
Smith says that they serve roughly 1,000 clients per month in the Moose Jaw and the surrounding area, with at least half the users being children. In May, Canada’s inflation hit a 39-year high rising to 7.7 per cent, which in turn caused food prices to increase as well.
“The price of fuel and food has just skyrocketed and a lot of people were struggling before the COVID-19 pandemic and now it’s just making things worse. When you go to fill up your tank and it’s costing you over double, it’s hitting a lot of people hard.”
Other demographics that have been using the food bank are working families and seniors due to the rising costs of inflation.
New research and data released by Food Banks Canada show that one-in-five (an estimated 7 million) Canadians now report going hungry — with 23 per cent reporting that they are eating less "than they think they should" because there isn't enough money for food.
Statistics Canada released their May 2022 Consumer Price Index, which saw grocery prices remain elevated in May as prices for food purchased from stores rose 9.7 per cent, matching the gain in April. With price increases across nearly all food products, Canadians reported food as the area in which they were most affected by rising prices.
Fresh vegetable prices increased 10.3 per cent in May, which included onions, peppers and carrots, contributed the most, rising 10.2 per cent on a year-over-year basis.
Even though the price of food is skyrocketing, Smith explains that the community of Moose Jaw has stepped up tremendously to help the food bank.
“The community has been amazing, Moose Jaw’s always been a very giving city and they’re always looking after their own. With the last two years with no major food drives and not a lot going on, it was really hard to keep up, but the community kept us going.”
The food bank is looking for anything and everything in terms of the types of food people can donate. She says they are looking for non-perishable items, school snacks, and fresh or frozen foods.
Lastly, the food bank puts together monthly food hampers for those in need, which will be filled with a variety of things. Each client can receive a food hamper once a month with 30 days in between pickups.
Those wishing to book a food hamper or more information on how to donate to the food bank can do so HERE.