Food banks: inflation boosts demand in Canada
Steph Deschamps / April 25, 2023
"We're in a real crisis," says the CEO of one of Canada's largest food banks, who is alarmed by the constant flow of requests, a direct result of the inflation that is affecting food in particular.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Daily Bread Food Bank saw its beneficiaries double to 120,000 per month.
But with "the shock of skyrocketing inflation, we registered up to 270,000 people in March," a record in the organization's history, says Neil Hetherington, its CEO.
More and more of the newcomers to the 128 food banks in the Toronto area have full-time jobs, he notes, as volunteers work to sort donations in a huge shed.
But their incomes do not allow them to live in a city where food and housing prices continue to rise, adds Hetherington, who advocates for more public housing.
According to a recent report by the real estate firm Urbanation, the average price of housing in Canada's largest city continues to rise.
A studio apartment costs an average of 2,124 Canadian dollars a month, about 380 dollars more than the previous year.
"I get government assistance but it's not enough to live on," Ryan Patcheson, who started coming regularly to the food bank a year and a half ago, tells AFP.
It makes a real difference when you have a few packages of rice and potatoes at the end of the month," adds the 30-year-old.
The same is true in Montreal where there is a long line in the basement of the Saint-Gilbert Parish where the association Alerte-Providence has been organizing a food distribution every Wednesday for over ten years.
"Lately, it's been increasing every week," says Paula Alerte, who has run the association for more than 30 years.
"The need is there," she says. "Every Wednesday, I worry that I won't have enough," she confides.
"All the prices have gone up. If you go to the supermarket, you can't buy as much as you used to," says Luis Lara, a 66-year-old retiree.
"Vegetables are really too expensive for me in the stores, so I come here," says Sofiia Slobodianiuk, a 20-year-old Ukrainian woman who is visiting the center for the first time.
Despite the slowdown in inflation in recent months in Canada, food prices continued to rise for the eighth consecutive month, by almost 10% in March.
Before, "the cost of living was expensive, but now it's become unbearable," Paula Alerte says with dismay. "I understand that everything has gone up, but the food, we can't live without it. »