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Barrie Food Bank launches holiday campaign with ambitious goals to tackle soaring food insecurity

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The Barrie Food Bank is gearing up for its most ambitious Holiday Campaign ever, aiming to raise $1 million and collect 500,000 pounds of food to meet the staggering number of people seeking support.

The food bank reports it assisted nearly 7,000 individuals in October, including 731 first-time visitors, marking a 94 per cent spike from last October.

Children make up 30 per cent of those needing emergency food support.

Furthermore, the Barrie Food Bank's Emergency Food Services for individuals experiencing homelessness or needing extra support between monthly shops reached 592 last month, more than triple what was reported in October 2022.

Sharon Palmer, the executive director of the Barrie Food Bank, highlighted the evolving landscape of those seeking assistance. "We are seeing more employed people than ever before, more large families, seniors, and more people on government support programs like Ontario Disability Support Payments or Ontario Works."

Palmer highlighted factors like the high cost of living, lack of affordable housing, stagnant wages, and insufficient government support programs that contribute to the escalating need, "causing more people in our community to turn to the Barrie Food Bank to make ends meet."

The Holiday Campaign's focus is on collecting financial and food donations, plus toiletries, diapers, and feminine hygiene products.

Most needed items include canned meats, cereal, nut butters, canned soups, stews, Ensure or similar protein supplements, healthy school snacks, and hygiene products.

The campaign accepts online donations or cheques mailed to P.O. Box 145, Barrie, Ont., L4M 4S9, or delivered to 42 Anne Street Street, Unit 2, Monday to Friday, 8:30 to 3:30. Tax receipts are provided.

Drop-off points for non-expired, non-perishable items include Zehrs, Loblaws, No Frills, Metro, FreshCo, Food Basics, Sobeys, Wholesale Club, and Costco. Many of these stores offer pre-packed bags to facilitate convenient shopping for the Barrie Food Bank.

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