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Rising cost of living putting unprecedented pressure on Canadian food banks – Kingston

The impacts of a higher cost of living are being felt at food banks across the country.

This year’s hunger count report says it’s the highest year-over-year increase in usage ever recorded, an increase that is being felt at food banks in the Kingston, Ont., area as well.

A trip to the grocery store, a mundane routine for some, is becoming less and less affordable and more stressful for more Canadians every day.

The Food Banks Canada Hunger Report shows that between March of this year and March 2022, food bank use jumped by over 30 per cent.

Since March 2021, usage has jumped by almost 80 per cent across the country.

“Groceries are outrageous right now,” said Natasha Hall, who uses the food bank’s services. She said the rising cost of living has made it harder to make ends meet.

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“Sometimes it’s difficult and I run out of money for food about the end of the month or so, so I come and use the food bank to get me to tide over until my next cheque,” she added.

St. Vincent De Paul Executive Director Judy Fyfe said both the charity’s meal program and emergency pantry have seen dramatic increases in visitors over the last couple of years and it isn’t just from people on social assistance.

“If you’re working a minimum wage job and you’re trying to pay rent and buy food, you’re going to have a really hard time in this economy,” said Fyfe.

It’s a similar story at the Partners in Mission Food Bank, whose executive director, Dan Irwin, said food bank usage is trending in the wrong direction.

“2021 was a record year for us, 2022 was a record year for us, and probably as of the next week or two will be another record for 2023 beating ’22 already,” he said.

Irwin said the rising prices are turning the food bank from an emergency resource to a monthly requirement.

Until help is provided to stem the tide, people like Hall can only be thankful these resources still exist.

“I am very thankful, it helps clothe me, it helps feed me and I’ve got the community supports that I need,” Hall said.

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