Demand rising at SHARE food bank as federal initiative rolls out, but more action needed
Posted on July 21, 2023 by
Demand rising at local food bank as federal initiative rolls out but more action needed, SHARE food bank says.
Food rebate helps alleviate stress but more action needed, SHARE food bank says.
BY JOSH KOZELJ, TRI-CITIES DISPATCH ● FOOD INSECURITY ● JULY 18, 2023
The dog days of summer are fast approaching, but the food bank is hoping the next two months will also be the time of giving.
SHARE Family and Community Services, a non-profit organization that includes a community food bank, launched a summer fundraiser last month to restock their shelves amid rising demand for food in the region.
The number of people in the Tri-Cities looking for food at the SHARE Food Bank has doubled since last year, said Claire MacLean, chief executive officer of SHARE.
“Week in, week out, we’re seeing new people coming to the food bank — 100 new users every week,” MacLean said. “The numbers are just really significant.”
In May, the Dispatch reported that a 40 percent year-over-year increase in demand led SHARE to start a callout for tomatoes, an all-purpose vegetable that pairs with many dishes from soups to salads.
The non-profit’s latest fundraiser comes amid a recent grocery rebate the federal government issued to some Canadians on July 5.
The one-time payment, designed to help Canadians grapple with high food costs due to inflation, ranged from $238 to $628, depending on marital and family status.
MacLean applauded the initiative, adding that it would go a long way for families in the Tri-Cities who are battling with the high cost of living. “When the government puts money into the hands of people, they spend it wisely,” she said. “There’s been significant research done around individuals who are street entrenched and homeless, when they get cash grants they spend it wisely and save it for long periods of time.”
A 2020 study from the University of British Columbia found that 50 people experiencing homelessness who received a payment of $7,500 moved into stable housing quickly, saved more than $1,000 of that money and spent less cash on alcohol and drugs. The group also had a higher likelihood of finding food security.
But MacLean said the grocery rebate is a short-term measure that fails to address larger issues that are causing food insecurity for many residents.
The high cost of food is especially dire for folks on fixed incomes, or seniors that don’t have the capacity to absorb the increased prices. “People can’t control interest rates, they can’t control inflation,” she said. “The challenge is when the cost of [living] is beyond the means of what their incomes are because of pressures outside of what they can control.”
Canada’s inflation rate dipped to 2.8 per cent last month, its lowest mark since March 2021.However, the cost of food still remains high, and has gone up nearly 20 per cent in two years.
MacLean said she’d hopeful municipal, provincial, and federal governments will work together to secure affordable housing for all residents. Creating affordable housing, she said, will be the biggest solution for people facing food insecurity in the Tri-Cities. “If they have a place to live that is secure, safe, and affordable, they will be able to manage pressures as they rise,” MacLean said. In the meantime, she added, people can donate to the food bank online or in-person at one of their locations in Coquitlam or Port Moody.
SHARE will also be at various events throughout the summer including the Downtown Port Coquitlam Car Show and farmers markets to procure donations.
The organization relies on those donations to meet the rising demand at the food bank. “We don’t turn anybody away,” MacLean said. “That’s what we commit to the community, if you show up, you leave with a wagon full of food.”
Author JOSH KOZELJ is a Vancouver-based reporter whose work has been featured in the Globe and Mail and The Tyee.
Link to article originally posted on the Tri-Cities Dispatch website, tricitiesdispatch.com: Demand rising at local food bank as federal initiative rolls out – Tri-Cities Dispatch (tricitiesdispatch.com)
For further information about SHARE Family & Community Services, please contact:
Darcel Moro (she/her)
Manager of Community Engagement
SHARE Family & Community Services