Food bank usage is on the rise in the Tri-Port areas. According to Andy Cornell, Manager at the Port Hardy Harvest Food Bank, “the first half of the year, from January to May, was slightly higher, around five per cent. But the second half of the year, from June to November, we saw a 60 per cent increase, and this month we’re breaking records.”
When asked why there was such a sudden increase in food bank usage in the second half of the year, Cornell replied that it was because of the “longterm shutdown of the Mill in Port Alice. 350 people in the community are out of work and that is having an effect on the surrounding businesses and the economy.”
The Tri-Port areas aren’t the only places where food bank usage has risen. Food Banks Canada’s annual report, ‘HungerCount 2015’, states that more than 100,000 people in B.C. alone have used food banks in March 2015. This is a 2.8 per cent increase between 2014-2015, and a 28.1 per cent increase from 2008- 2015. Over 800,000 people across Canada have used food banks in March 2015, a 1.3 per cent increase between 2014-2015, and a 26.1 per cent increase from 2008-2015.
Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada’s Executive Director, Jeff Schwartz, commented via press release on the rise in food bank users across Canada, stating, “whether it’s low wages, high housing costs, credit card debt with crippling interest charges, or any of the other day-to-day living expenses, it’s becoming harder and harder for Canadians to make ends meet.” Schwartz added that “increases in food bank usage since 2008 show that people are still in need.”Food Banks Canada’s report also breaks down that 1 in 6 food bank users are employed, and that 67 per cent of households helped by food banks live in rental housing and pay market-level rent.“There’s a belief that only a narrow section of our population uses a food bank, but that’s not the case,” commented Schwartz.
“Food insecurity affects a range of Canadians, from families to singles, retired to working-class.” Schwartz and Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada also compiled some of the best ways that you can perform financial first aid and find good alternatives to food banks. Some examples are, to take a good look at your finances and tally up what’s coming in and what’s going out, then create a budget which prioritizes your needs and forgets your wants, and if needed, don’t be afraid to use income assistance tools that are available through federal, provincial, and municipal government offices. For more information on Food Banks British Columbia, their website is www.foodbanksbc.ca.