Feed Ontario reports spike in the need for food banks
BARRIE, ONT. -- Eight months ago, the Barrie Food Bank wasn't sure what their 2020 fate would be. Fast forward to the second wave of the pandemic, and staff aren't concerned about supporting residents.
"If it weren't for the support we had, a lot of people would be going hungry," said Peter Sundborg, executive director.
Sundborg said the community really came through with donations, so much so that the food bank doesn't have a financial goal set for the upcoming winter season.
But the demand continues to grow.
"Right now, we're serving just over 800 households a month," said Sundborg. "I can see that going to 900, maybe 1,000 a month in the next few months as winter sets in."
That's almost 150 additional people month to month than in previous years.
The Sharing Place Food Centre in Orillia has also seen an increase in clients, but the staff said they are in good shape for this holiday season.
"The pandemic really hit some families that were not expecting to go into poverty," said executive director Chris Peacock. "They're now put into a position where their visa statements are adding up. Their debt is adding up to a point where they can no longer make those bills."
Peacock said they are more worried about 2021, especially if the pandemic continues.
The 2020 Hunger Report released Monday by Feed Ontario shows the staggering effects of COVID-19 on an already existing issue.
Provincially, food banks saw a 26 per cent increase for first-time users between March and September 2020.
According to executive director Carolyn Stewart, one out of two individuals using the 200 surveyed food banks was worried about facing eviction and mortgage payments in the next two to six months.
"Over 90 per cent of these individuals were incurring significant debt to pay for basic and essential needs," added Stewart.
Stewart said the network is concerned that the need will overtake their capacity, and there is still a push for those who have the means to donate to their local food banks.