Cost of living up, donations down at P.E.I. food banks

·2 min read
The Upper Room food bank in Charlottetown is expecting a busier winter than usual. (Nicola MacLeod/CBC - image credit)
The Upper Room food bank in Charlottetown is expecting a busier winter than usual. (Nicola MacLeod/CBC - image credit)

As inflation rises across the country and the cost of living goes up, food banks on P.E.I. are seeing decreased donations.

At the Upper Room food bank in Charlottetown, the Y's Men Food Drive this week brought in about two-thirds of what Islanders donated last year.

"All of a sudden grocery bills, you know, cost more and they keep going up and up," said Mike MacDonald, executive director of the Upper Room. "It costs more to fill their car up with gas. It's going to cost more to heat their homes."

Nicola MacLeod/CBC
Nicola MacLeod/CBC

Inflation rates have reached a 20-year high in Canada — and at 6.3 per cent, P.E.I. has the highest in the country.

Combine that with an end to government programs like the Canada Recovery Benefit, food banks are bracing for more new faces.

"We're also going to have those same types of increases as well when we purchase food or put gas in our vehicles … it's going to be a busy year. It's going to be a difficult winter for a lot of people," MacDonald said.

At the South Shore Food Share in Crapaud, volunteers provide food to families in need from Borden-Carleton to Bonshaw. Demand here is also up, from 30 families last year to as many as 40.

Nicola MacLeod/CBC
Nicola MacLeod/CBC

"We're seeing more people who maybe just need us once, maybe twice, when they're starting their unemployment or transitioning from one job to another," Jackie Myers of the South Shore Food Share said.

'People are struggling'

Back in Charlottetown, MacDonald said he's only ever seen this kind of economic impact once before in his 20 years at the Upper Room: during the 2008 recession.

"It's not like a switch is turned on and off. It will certainly have an impact on people for months and years to come," he said.

"People are struggling, we're trying to do things differently and do things safe, but still welcome people in. It's a different time for us and we'll continue to be there and help Islanders that need the help."

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