P.E.I. food bank sees big jump in demand due to inflation, gas prices

·2 min read
Last month, the food bank had 51 new families come through its doors — that's compared to 19 families last April. (Brian Higgins/CBC - image credit)
Last month, the food bank had 51 new families come through its doors — that's compared to 19 families last April. (Brian Higgins/CBC - image credit)

Rising inflation and unscheduled increases at the pump have pushed a Charlottetown food bank to see one of its biggest spikes in clients since the late '00s.

Upper Room Hospitality Ministry executive director Mike MacDonald said the food bank had 51 new families come through its doors last month — that's compared to 19 families last April.

"We've seen a similar increase back in … 2008, 2009. But if we take away our colder years, usually we're looking at a one-to-two per cent increase, or sometimes a small decrease," he said.

"It's a pretty significant jump, that's for sure."

Kevin Yarr/CBC
Kevin Yarr/CBC

As of March, Statistics Canada reported the annual inflation rate on P.E.I. to be the highest across the country, at 8.9 per cent compared to the national average of 6.7 per cent.

Meanwhile, gas prices rose again Saturday after an increase just two days before — breaking records on the Island with diesel up nearly 50 cents since April 22 and heating oil up 43 cents.

Staff say some of the new clients are people who never thought they'd be forced to access the food bank's services, MacDonald said.

"Those people that were probably just on the edge of having to [come to the food bank] in the past are certainly using us now," he said.

"Whether it's the high price of rent or the high price of food or gas or heating their home … that's the biggest thing that we hear on a daily basis."

MacDonald said support from the provincial and federal governments is helping offset the food bank's rising costs to help keep up with the growing demand.

But despite the challenge, MacDonald is still encouraging people who need help to come to the food bank for support.

Brian Higgins/CBC
Brian Higgins/CBC
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