Food bank use remains high in Waterloo Region
A report released Tuesday shows that food bank use across Canada remains near record highs despite a recent drop.
In Waterloo Region, the record highs sound about right – but statistics don’t show the recent national drop being felt locally.
“Overall we’re seeing increases in the distribution of food hampers and the serving of community meals,” says Wendi Campbell, executive director of the Food Bank of Waterloo Region.
Local numbers show a 5 per cent increase in food bank use from 2011 to 2012, as well as a 12-per-cent increase in the number of hot meals served.
Campbell says that can be attributed in part to families needing to rely on the food bank and similar services more often than in the past.
“No longer are families able to get through the month with only one food hamper or one hot meal,” she says.
Approximately 500,000 hot meals were served through the food bank in 2012, while 80,000 emergency food hampers were distributed, with a total of 28,200 people fed.
Harry Whyte, CEO of Kitchener-based Ray of Hope, says his agency will serve approximately 80,000 meals by the end of 2013.
“Since the beginning of January we’ve had over 600 new people register for our food hamper program,” he says.
Although many of Ray of Hope’s clients have been homeless for several years or longer, Whyte says an increasing number of meals are being served to people who lost local manufacturing jobs and eventually ran through their assets.
“The stress of not being able to find work again has got them to the point where they need the social supports that we have in the community,” he says.
It’s estimated that 16 per cent of households using the Food Bank of Waterloo Regional are ‘working poor’ – with one or more family members holding down jobs.