A one-time grocery rebate for low income Canadians is coming at time where many residents in the Region of Waterloo are struggling to keep up with their food bills.

According to the Cambridge Food Bank, the high price of groceries is driving a dramatic increase in the number of people accessing it. Over 2,300 households have used the food bank so far this year. It said that's a 63 per cent increase compared to the same time last year.

“This past January 2023 was our highest number of users in our 35 year history," Dianne McLeod, the executive director of the Cambridge Food Bank said.

Financial donations have remained steady, McLeod said, but grocery donations are down 67 per cent. The food bank is needing to buy items like pasta sauce, which it never had to do before.

“Certainly, what people are telling us is that they can’t afford to put as much in those donation bins at the grocery store as they used to. They’re struggling to stretch their own budget to feed their own families," McLeod said.

People in downtown Cambridge said they have been buying less items on their grocery trips, while also looking for deals.

“They’re actually very expensive. Between me, my husband and my little girl, it’s like $400 a week," Chantal Medeiros, a grocery shopper said. “You try to go for like the no name stuff, because it seems to be cheaper than the brand name stuff but you have to make a sacrifice right?"

“I buy less groceries. I just try to get enough things to be able to eat," Kyle Wilson said.

“I buy more tomato sauces, spaghetti’s, and ground beef. Those prices are still high, but they’re a lot cheaper than a steak," Micheal Medeiros said.


When it comes to staying healthy on a budget, Pharren Jamieson, a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, and owner of Pherrin Jamieson Wellness: Gut Health, said buying whole foods instead of pre-made or packaged items can help keep both your waist and wallet healthy.

“So if we’re looking at sweet potatoes or potatoes or broccoli and everything that’s fresh, that is going to be better on the budget rather than getting something that’s pre-packaged,” Jamieson said.

According to Jamieson, preparing meals for the week ahead can also be a big money saver.

“Being able to prep some healthy snacks and have them ready to go can save a lot of money and create more nutrition for our kids and ourselves as well,” Jamieson said.