Food bank use has gone up in the last year partly because of rising housing and rent costs, as well as increasing food prices, according to Richard Matern, director of research and communication for the Daily Bread Food Bank.
"[With] house prices rising and rental pricing being such a pressure on households ... people were really pinched by food prices last year, more than they expected," he said.
Hundreds of volunteers sorted through food donations on Friday as part of the food bank's annual spring drive.
Since 2008, Daily Bread has seen a 50 per cent increase in people using food banks in Toronto's inner suburbs with a 24 per cent spike in Scarborough alone, Matern said.
"[Rent] is such an intense pressure. People can't skip paying rent. It's a concrete expense," he said. "Food is usually the first thing to be sacrificed so it is by far the biggest driver of food bank use."
Gail Nyberg, executive director of the Daily Bread Food Bank, said the bank has seen a "fairly large jump" in demand.
"Poverty is being pushed out of the downtown core into the suburbs and it is growing fast there," she said.
Spring drive ends April 21
The goal of this year's drive is to collect 500,000 pounds of food and $250,000 in cash donations — the majority of which the food bank has collected already.
Nyberg said the bank is optimistic about meeting its goal by early next week. The drive ends April 21.
Non-perishable food donations can be dropped off at any local fire hall.
The most needed food items are peanut butter, canned fish, vegetables and fruit, rice, pasta, tomato sauce, beans, baby food, cereal and formula.
Money donations can also be made online at www.dailybread.ca/donate.