Fewer donations, ever-increasing demand: Northern food banks are struggling to keep up IG News

IG news Update,

Food bank use continues to grow across Canada, and the North has seen some of the most dramatic changes in recent years.

According to Food Banks Canada’s 2022 “HungerCount” report, food bank visits across the territories are set to increase by almost 36 per cent between 2021 and 2022. This is compared to a two per cent increase in visits in the previous two years.

“We were heading into a pandemic, into a crisis of survival, with what I would call crisis-level food insecurity rates in territories that already have,” said Kirsten Bardsley, CEO of Food Banks Canada.

“It’s just amplified … It’s harder to get food in the north, the cost of food is higher anyway, and so people are already stretched. And so it’s almost the same as what we see in southern Canada.” are difficult even in distant countries. Answer.

Beardsley said food bank access across Canada is now higher than ever.

“Whoever was close to the edge has now been pushed,” she said.

Lt. Jason Brinson, executive director of The Salvation Army Yellowknife, which runs a local food bank, has certainly noticed that more people are feeling the pinch of inflation and higher food prices.

“It’s really hard for people,” he said.

A man in a Salvation Army jacket stands in front of a shelf of food.
Jason Brinson, executive director of the Salvation Army Yellowknife, said it is “pretty shocking” how much his organization now spends on food to supplement donations. (Kate Kyle/CBC)

“We’re certainly worried about what the future looks like if things don’t change.”

Brinson said her food bank is getting fewer donations, along with higher demand. He chalks it up to the same thing – the ever-increasing cost of food.

Brinson has said in the past that his facility may spend a few thousand dollars a year to meet his food donation. Now, it has spent over $100,000 so far this fiscal year.

It is “very shocking”, he said.

‘At least I know I’ll get something to eat tonight’

At the Yellowknife Women’s Center, Martha Karu has come to collect a food hamper. His part-time job doesn’t make enough money to buy all the food he needs.

“I feel great. At least I know I’ll have something to eat tonight and tomorrow and the next day,” she said.

A woman sits at a table with a plate of food and a mug in front of her.
Martha Caru at the Yellowknife Women’s Center, where she dropped in to pick up a food hamper — something she does about once a month. (Kate Kyle/CBC)

Still, she doesn’t take everything she needs. Karu picks up no more than one hamper per month because she wants to make sure people with large families get what they need.

The center prepares hampers with whatever food donations it receives from Food Rescue Yellowknife on Fridays.

Jenny Smith, who helps out at the center, says it’s never enough these days. Sometimes people come early and are asked to come back.

“We can only do so much, and it’s first come, first served, so I feel terrible when we don’t have any more. Like, it’s hard to say no,” Smith said.

A woman smiles at the camera as she removes some food from an industrial fridge.
Jenny Smith is the shelter manager at the Yellowknife Women’s Center. (Kate Kyle/CBC)

“Here for the last month and a half, we barely got bread, we barely got meat – just because the cost is so high now… Before, we used to get tonnes of meat, like cases and cases of bread, and now It’s just, we barely get by.”

Beardsley isn’t sure what the solution is for food banks and other organizations struggling to meet the ever-increasing need. But she says she “can only be called upon to do so much.”

“I think the solution here is really about seeing fewer people in need of the food bank,” she said, “which is really about making sure people have access to the income that they need.” Is.”