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Dufferin food banks struggle to keep pace amid 40% surge in demand


In Orangeville, there's no respite at the food bank as the number of people seeking assistance continues to surge.

According to the organization's executive director, the trend shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon, with a 40 per cent increase in numbers over the last year.

"Last month, we served 1,213 people, a number we have never seen before, and prior to the pandemic, we were serving 600 people a month," said Heather Hayes.

The influx of people seeking assistance has necessitated a collective effort akin to an army to handle the mounting volume of donated food.

The surge in demand is not unique to Orangeville. Neighbouring communities like Barrie, Orillia, and other regions across the country are experiencing similar trends.

The root causes behind the escalating dependence on food banks are manifold, with inflation and the lack of affordable housing as primary contributors.

"It's not who you think is using the food banks anymore. It's your neighbour, your friends, and your family," Hayes stressed.

In nearby Shelburne, the situation mirrors that of Orangeville, with roughly 300 families seeking aid from the local food bank every month.

"It feels like the numbers only increase. I can't remember the last time we saw a shift where we weren't signing in new clients, so you do get the sense that it is on the increase, and it's a relatively unprecedented increase. We have never seen numbers like this before," said Ardith Dunlop with the Shepherds Cupboard Food Bank.

Hayes emphasized the urgency for government intervention and policy changes to address the root causes of the escalating demand.

She highlighted the upcoming day of action on November 1, where several food banks, including Orangeville's, will actively advocate for crucial policy reforms.

With the holiday season on the horizon, Hayes anticipates a further surge in numbers, emphasizing the importance of not only food donations but also the significant impact of monetary contributions from the public. Top Stories

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