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Local food banks seek community support during spring drives as usage surges


The Barrie Food Bank's Spring Food Drive has officially kicked off.

During the month of February, officials said 3,900 individuals visited the food bank.

"It's a concern for us, it's a concern for other social service agencies in our area," said Sharon Palmer, the Barrie food bank's executive director.

The Barrie Food Bank's goal for its spring drive is to collect 100,000 pounds of food and $100,000 by the end of April.

"There's a lot of people suffering in a lot of different ways," said Palmer.

She adds that usage is up 53 per cent year over year, including new members who have never needed to access the food bank before.

"We had an 89-year-old man come to us for the first time last week. That just kind of shows you what's happening in society right now and how difficult it is for some people," said Palmer.

Some of the most needed items are protein drinks, canned foods, peanut butter, meat, pasta and pasta sauce, school snacks, cereal, baby formula and hygiene products such as shampoo, body wash, toothpaste and feminine hygiene products.

"There's impacts every day. There's changes every day in the community services, and that's what we're here for. And that's why we encourage everybody to take part in the food drives," said Deborah Ferrier, volunteer with the Barrie Food Bank.

Officials with The Sharing Place in Orillia report similar trends.

The Sharing Place in Orillia, Ont. (CTV News/Catalina Gillies)

"Last month, we saw 1,900 people a month. This time last year, we were seeing about 1,500 people a month. So, it's really going up 30 per cent to 40 per cent," said Chris Peacock, executive director of The Sharing Place.

They hope to raise $50,000 through the Easter food drive, which Peacock said would last them roughly one month.

"It's difficult right now to be able to predict the cost of food. Every month we're seeing consistent increases in our costs to be able to keep the shelves full," said Peacock.

He noted their waiting room is now full on a daily basis, with 70 to 90 new members monthly.

"I'm not sure what the future holds, and unfortunately, it does not look good, so we're really looking for those that are fortunate in our community to be able to respond and support the most vulnerable individuals," he added.

The Sharing Place will wrap up its food drive on Easter Monday.

It will also be partnering with St. James Church over the Easter weekend to hand out home-cooked meals for families and individuals for the holiday. Top Stories

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