Ahead of Thanksgiving, charities struggle to meet rising demand due to inflation

Charities in Vancouver say they are struggling to meet growing demand and cover their own expenses as inflation drives the cost of groceries to new highs ahead of Thanksgiving.

Union Gospel Mission (UGM) serves its annual celebratory dinner to approximately 3,000 of the Downtown Eastside’s most vulnerable residents.

The bill has grown exponentially: Receipts show the cost of the turkey alone has increased by $4,000 over the past two years for the same number of meals.

« We’ve actually seen an increase so drastic that when we look at the cost to serve 700 meals a day for the next 365 days, it’s going to cost an additional quarter of a million dollars, » said spokeswoman Nicole Mucci. of union. Gospel mission.

Randy Spark says it’s getting harder and harder to stick to his kitchen budget at Union Gospel Mission with the rising cost of food. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Invoices for turkey orders show the charity paid $5.69 a pound for turkey breast in 2021. The same item cost $7.99 a pound this year, a 40% jump .

Each UGM meal also includes toppings, which have also become more expensive.

“Our vegetables and everything else have also increased moderately [in price]“, said Mucci.

« If inflation hits everyone hard enough, we know those who struggle the most will be hit the hardest. »

Rising prices have forced everyone working with the organization to be creative with cost-cutting measures while maintaining quality standards.

Volunteers are reminded to cut vegetables like celery closer to the ends of the stalks to squeeze as much of each item as possible.

« Things like this that don’t cut much cost add up when you talk about the mass we do here, » said chef and kitchen manager Randy Spark.

A Food Stash Foundation staff member restocks a fridge at their weekly Rescued Food Market where shoppers can pay what they want. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Food Stash, a Vancouver-based charity that offers groceries at a pay rate, said the number of customers walking through its doors had increased by half since January – and customers could no longer afford to pay as much as formerly could.

People who gave $2 per purchase when the market opened a year ago can now only afford to give an average of $0.40, executives said.

« We are seeing a lot more demand. The line on the street is longer than ever, » said Carla Pellegrini, executive director of Food Stash.

« It’s tough right now. Everything is so expensive: gas, food, housing has always been very expensive in this city and I think it’s just piling up…that means it’s is harder to keep. » [the charity] functioning. »

Pellegrini said buyers traversing the market include seniors on fixed incomes, single parents, young students — « just your regular person trying to get by. »

“We see new people coming to the market every week,” she said.

Experts suggest shoppers be flexible with their Thanksgiving menus this year to save money on their grocery bill – opt for alternatives like chicken, fish or roast for protein and choose veggies in sale instead of familiar staple foods.

They added that there should also be no pressure to organize a perfect meal.

« For me, Thanksgiving is just a time to celebrate with food, friends and family, so whatever you put on the table…it will be happy, » said food blogger Joyce Lam.


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