Rising grocery prices are resulting in three times the number of Canadians visiting food banks in some areas, according to the CEO of Daily Bread Food Bank.
Neil Hetherington said that Toronto has seen a spike of nearly 100,000 visitors, up from 60,000 who accessed its services before the pandemic.
“We expect that number to rise to about 225,000 client visits per month,” he said. “People are in need in the city, and we need to do something about it.”
Other jurisdictions including Charlottetown and Calgary have also seen a spike. For example, the Upper Room Hospitality Ministry in PEI saw a 60% increase since April 2021.
Meanwhile in Calgary, 75% of food bank deliveries were to new clients to the program.
Food prices across Canada have skyrocketed, with Statistics Canada reporting an increase of 9.7% since April of last year. Meanwhile, inflation reached a three-decade high at 6.8%.
“We committed as a country that we would reduce poverty by 50 per cent by 2030. We’re not on track to be able to do that and this inflation has exacerbated that situation,” said Hetherington.
“We know the answers to these social problems. We know the levers to pull. We know the impact that they’re going to have. We just need to have the political will and courage and leadership to be able to make that difference.”
The 2022 Canada Food Price Report found that the average Canadian family of four would pay $1000 more for food this year.
“It’s important for consumers to understand that food prices have been going up for some time, and there’s no turning back,” said project lead Sylvain Charlebois. “Our relationship with food is changing, and so will our food budgets. Showing up at the grocery store knowing what you should be paying will help.”
The most affected provinces are believed to be Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario and Saskatchewan.
“COVID-19 is still here,” said report analyst Alyssa Gerhardt. “The food supply chain will continue to grapple with the cost of sanitation and PPE, high transportation costs and reduced maritime transport capacity, as well as decreased efficiency and disruptions due to closures.”