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Food banks deal with higher usage, fewer donations

By Brad Perry Dec 28, 2023 | 6:17 AM

It has been a challenging year for food banks across New Brunswick, according to Food Depot Alimentaire.

The non-profit serves food banks, community kitchens, school programs and other agencies across the province.

Stephane Sirois said its members have seen a nearly 50 per cent increase in food bank usage over the past year.

“We’re seeing more people that are working and more homeowners that are visiting food banks. It’s not just people on social assistance or who are homeless,” Sirois said in an interview.

“If you have to renew your mortgage with the interest rates at the level they’re at, it could make a significant dent in your budget. “Once you pay for everything, whatever is left for food is not much, you might need some help.”

Sirois believes the actual demand is much higher as some people who need help are too embarrassed to go to a food bank.

In addition to higher usage, Sirois said food banks have also seen a drop in financial donations as people struggle with high inflation.

“The ones that come in, on average, are donating less. We understand that everyone is tightening their belt,” he said.

The increased usage combined with fewer financial donations is making it more challenging for food banks to help those in need.

Looking ahead to 2024, Sirois said demand levelling off would be the best-case scenario, but he thinks it may continue to increase.