The Moose Jaw and District Food Bank have seen a significant increase in residents using their monthly food hamper service, as the cost of groceries and everyday necessities continues to go up.
Looking back, the food bank’s operations manager, Terri Smith, says year-over-year from 2021 to 2022 she has seen a 25 per cent increase in their food hamper usage.
She adds that is an increase of 30 per cent in children and 36 per cent in adults using that service.
“As a whole community, I’ve never seen the increases that I have,” says Smith. “There’s always been ups and downs over the years but this has probably been one of the worst. I’ve never seen so many new clients signing up, and people that are coming back. It’s kind of scary seeing how many people really do need help.”
In December, Canada’s inflation rate rose 6.3 per cent year-over-year, which followed a 6.8 per cent increase in November.
Though grocery prices didn’t see a huge spike, they still rose 11 per cent year-over-year in December. The biggest spike was seen in fresh produce, which rose 13.6 per cent in December, especially tomatoes which saw a 21.9 per cent increase.
Even though the price of produce is rising, the food bank wants to make sure the users are getting the nutritional items they need to stay healthy.
“We try and make sure that any fruits and vegetables that come in will go into the hampers," explained Smith. "We get a lot of items from the grocery stores such as dairy products.”
The food bank is seeing a demand for all food items such as non-perishable's, produce, fruits, dairy, and bread.
Moose Jaw residents won’t have to worry about going hungry, as the food bank is well-stocked following a number of food drives and donations throughout 2022 that will be used in their food hampers.
“This is the first year we actually ran the Better Together Food Drive in person, as it has been held virtually in previous years and that brought in 43,000 pounds of food. The CP Holiday Train brought in food plus the Moose Jaw Co-op was on board and that brought in 16,000 pounds of food. Those kinds of things keep us going along with the smaller food drives that people put on for us that really get us through.”
Those getting a monthly hamper will get a wide variety of food products and in most circumstances will see the same type of items each time.
“We have a basic kind of hamper, which would be canned meat, canned fruit, canned vegetables, pork n’ beans, pasta sauce, various kinds of soups, cereal or oatmeal, Kraft Dinner, Sidekicks, Hamburger Helper, Ichiban noodles, and dried pasta and rice.”
The food bank will also add in items such as eggs, fresh meat, dairy products, and whatever fresh fruit or vegetables they have on hand will also go into the hamper.
Those wishing to use the food hamper service can receive one a month with 30 days in-between pickups. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the food bank actually increased the hamper occurrence from seven a year up to 12.
“To make it even easier on the clients where we have made it so if you need two hampers within 30 days. Some of our clients have to take advantage of the two and some are fine with only the one or skip a couple of months depending on their situation.”
Those wishing to book a food hamper or more information on how to donate to the food bank can do so HERE.