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Hamiltonians turn to food banks as inflation rises

As the cost of groceries continues to rise, Hamiltonians are increasingly taking advantage of local food banks at community outreach services including The Good Shepherd’s Venture Centre and The Salvation Army.

The Venture Centre provides low-income households with a month’s supply of groceries. The family’s monthly earnings must qualify for food services, and the quantity of goods received depends on the size of the family.

A shelf of non-perishable foods.
Non-perishable food items are available at food banks for families to take home. The colour code system determines the number of items each family receives based on family size.

The Good Shepherd’s Venture Centre receives approximately ten new families each day. Caseworker Shannon Walker says inflation has had a significant impact on the increasing number of families needing help.

“We’ve had a massive increase of people because of inflation, food prices and rent,” Walker said. “When Covid and CERB ended, we had massive amounts of families come in. Even those who haven’t been here in five years have returned because they just can’t make ends meet.”

Low-income families aren’t the only ones struggling during this time. Families considered to be in the working class have also been hit by inflation. Increased prices can cause working-class families to turn to food banks, but for some families, food banks are their only source of nutrients.

“Honestly my family has broken because of it [inflation],” Hamilton resident Alexandra Poole said. “I’m currently homeless, and assistance services don’t provide enough for basic needs. So the food banks and pantries are about the only places I get food right now.”

The Good Shepherd and Salvation Army both provide nutritious items for families in need. The Salvation Army’s community program manager Tina Dawson says people can manage their food wisely by accessing more services.

A self of fresh produce
The Venture Centre offers fresh produce.

“Clients can access our food bank once per month along with any other food bank once per month,” Dawson said. “There’s eight main food banks in the city and agencies that provide hot meals.”

Food banks are also being affected by increasing food prices, limiting the services they can offer. Walker says it wouldn’t be possible for the food bank to fund every holiday due to a lack of donations. So holiday food items such as Thanksgiving turkeys aren’t provided.

“It all comes down to donations,” Walker said. “Food is so expensive that the places that used to donate to us can no longer afford 3,000 turkeys for the month. Some grocery stores reduced the prices of meat and would donate them to us. However, we’re not even getting that meat anymore.”

People are encouraged to reach out to The Good Shepherd or The Salvation Army for assistance with food services. Donations are being accepted at Donate Now – Good Shepherd Centres and Donate – The Salvation Army in Canada.

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