Powassan food bank feeling effects of rising prices

·4 min read

The rising price of food and gasoline is affecting how the Powassan and District Food Bank operates. Coordinator Diane Cole says because of inflation, the same amount of money the food bank receives buys about 10 to 15 per cent less in food now compared to last year. It's made the food bank even more careful and vigilant when shopping for food and keeping an eye out for specials. And when some items aren't on sale, Cole says “maybe we can't buy it this week, let's see what it is next week.” One food item that was readily available regularly before the food spikes was peanut butter. But supply chain issues have affected this item and the price has jumped significantly. “We used to get it for everyone but the price has gone up, and now if you see it for $5 that's a good price,” Cole said. The food bank shopper ensures all the necessary ingredients needed to make meals at home for the clients are picked up. “Otherwise if they leave something out and the client is stuck, then they have to go and buy it themselves and they may not have enough money,” she said. Cole says higher gasoline prices have also created a conflicting issue for the food bank. The agency serves not only Powassan but also residents of Trout Creek, Chisholm, Nipissing and Restoule. “I'm finding some people are wondering how they're going to get here,” she said. “And we don't want to start delivering because that's going to take away food money from the food bank.” For now, clients in this position have to find their own way to the food bank. Cole says the tough times have also seen a rise in clientele. Four new families have become clients of the food bank in the last month and considering the small size of the surrounding communities, that's a significant figure. It also takes the total number of families served to 23. Despite the hard times, Cole says people continue to give. “We are getting more donations and people ask us what we need,” she said. “I can't say enough about the giving community we live in. The food bank can't do what it does without this giving community.” Cole says the charity of area residents is evident on the food bank's Facebook page. Whenever she runs into a shortage and mentions a particular need on Facebook, “it arrives. “On one occasion some seniors needed Boost and within 24 hours we had two cases,” she said. “But I'm also careful about what we ask for because a lot of people are in the same situation during these times and can't always give.” Cole says the bulk of the buying comes from the local Valu-mart and she is grateful to the grocery store because one item that's always in need is milk, which the outlet gives the food bank a good deal on. The food bank is always trying to find the freshest fruits and vegetables to help provide nutritious meals. In keeping with the late spring season, the food bank wants to give clients fresh strawberries. It's ordering large quantities of strawberries from Leisure Farms in Sturgeon Falls. Cole notes that baby food has also been donated to the food bank, but since none of its clients have babies it has no need for these goods. She's in the process of donating them to a baby bank in Sudbury but adds if organizations in North Bay are in need of baby food supplies to call 705-492-3958. Cole says clients are grateful for the food they receive and recalls one individual who kept looking at the basket of goods and asked “is all this for me?” The food bank, located at 250 Clark, has three freezers. Two of them store various meats and the third houses bread. It also has two refrigerators. Eggs, fruits and vegetables are kept in one fridge while milk and margarine are kept cool in the second unit. Cole says despite the tough times the food bank is holding its own. If there is one area where it could use help it's having more volunteers to help with stocking shelves and helping with fundraising activities. Cole says the food bank recently acquired a shopper so that base is covered. People who need help can go to the agency's website at www.powassanfoodbank.ca for more information. The food bank distributes food to its clients every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the 250 Clark location.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget

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