le Dimanche 25 septembre 2022
le Mercredi 14 septembre 2022 17:41 Tribune-Express (Hawkesbury)

Growing number of foodbank users

Jeanne Charlebois and Robert Lefebvre (centre) and the volunteers of the food bank.  — photo Antoine Messier
Jeanne Charlebois and Robert Lefebvre (centre) and the volunteers of the food bank.
photo Antoine Messier
The Hawkesbury Central Food Bank has seen its number of clients increase by more than 100 users per month since 2021 and close to 150 users per month since 2019.

Since 2019, the food bank has seen an increase of 33.7 per cent of users per month. The dollar value of donated food has also increased each year. Between April 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018, the food bank had donated $123,868 in food to its users. Between April 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022, the bank donated $221,341 in food, which marks a 78.7 per cent increase since fiscal year  2017.

This increase accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Between 2019 and 2021, the food bank saw an increase in food donations from 150,446 to 221,341, or 47.1 per cent.

Inflation

Jeanne Charlebois, president of the food bank, and Robert Lefebvre, food bank treasurer, believe that the increase in users is due to inflation. Lefebvre said that products are more expensive in grocery stores so people are more apt to ask the food bank for help to feed themselves. These same products cost more for the food bank as well, which increases the total expenses of the bank.

« With the cost of living, there are people who need a little help, » said Charlebois. « We’re there. »

The foodbank has not yet encountered any financial problems. However, it is sometimes impossible to obtain everything that is ordered because of the problems faced by grocery stores.

« Inflation has an impact in many ways, » said Lefebvre. « It’s more expensive for everyone, which means grocery stores don’t want to keep a large inventory, so there’s less surplus. »

The food bank buys food from local grocery stores. Sometimes the grocery stores don’t get all the products ordered, which means the food bank can’t get its share.

Cash donations are also reduced. Individuals have less money to donate, and social clubs, which usually donate money to the food bank, are receiving less money which means they can’t donate as much to the foodbank as they used to.

Quality Service

The food bank still wants to keep the same quality of service as in the past years and plans to donate Christmas baskets in December. This is possible thanks to the generosity of the food bank’s partners such as local grocery stores and non-profit organizations, as well as the people of Hawkesbury.

However, it can no longer provide fresh fruits and vegetables on a regular basis to her clients.

« Those who have gardens and those who have extra vegetables, we would appreciate donations because it’s become so expensive that we can’t afford to buy them anymore, » said Charlebois. The food bank’s clients also ask for cleaning products such as soap and shampoo, which is not included in the organization’s budget.

The food bank is open Tuesday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 a.m. It offers free food to anyone who needs it. The food bank also operates a free thrift store for all its users for those in need of laundry, school materials, children’s toys and dishes.