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Food bank takes new approach to help growing number of people struggling with food insecurity

The Barrie Food Bank is changing its approach to help the growing number of individuals and families experiencing food insecurity in the community.

In February, the food bank provided food for 3,962 individuals, representing a 58 per cent increase over the same month last year.

Barrie Food Bank executive director Sharon Palmer notes the most significant growth is in families with children and seniors.

The situation is so dire that Palmer says over 100 people visit the food bank each month for emergency bags containing enough food for a few days to help people get by until their next monthly shop.

The organization recognizes that many facing food insecurity will not seek support from a food bank due to concerns about the food they will receive and the stigma associated with using the service.

The Barrie Food Bank responded to these concerns by moving away from pre-bagged hampers to introducing a self-shop model, allowing visitors to select the food items that meet their household needs.

"It will be much closer to the experience of visiting a grocery store. We want everyone who receives food from the food bank to feel that they are treated with respect and dignity," said Palmer.

The overall amount of food available will not change, but the new model is expected to be more efficient, with less food waste.

Volunteers will be available to assist shoppers with finding items and answering questions, and emergency bags and bread bags will still be available if needed.

"We are excited to be able to offer this new way of serving our community. Other food banks that have made this change consistently say they spend less on food per household, as items are not taken if a household won't use them," Palmer noted. Top Stories

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