Food bank use triples to monthly record: Daily Bread Food Bank

« We are shocked every month when we do the math on how much food we distribute »: Food Bank

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Food bank use in Toronto has tripled from pre-pandemic levels — and demand has hit record highs nearly every month this year, according to the Daily Bread Food Bank.

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“We are shocked every month when we calculate how much food we distribute,” said Diane Dyson, acting vice president of research and advocacy at Daily Bread.

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“We know that during the pandemic, the number of people using our services has doubled. With the added complication of recession and inflation, we’ve tripled now.

Before COVID, Daily Bread recorded approximately 60,000 food bank visits each month in the GTA.

This has now reached 181,000 each month.

« It’s kind of scary, » Dyson said.

“People are using their savings and selling everything they have because the food bank is kind of the last place anyone wants to come. But when all these things are exhausted, they show up at our doorsteps.

Daily Bread provides food donations to approximately 130 agencies across the GTA.

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« Each month since March, we’ve reached record numbers of people we serve, » said Julie Lejeune, executive director of the Fort York Food Bank in the heart of the city.

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« Right now we’re serving around 2,000 people a week – the highest we’ve ever served. »

That compares to just under 1,000 people a week before the pandemic hit.

The food bank location on College Street also offers a hot meal program which has seen a similar increase in demand.

According to Daily Bread, precarious jobs, unaffordable housing and rampant inflation are the main factors driving people to rely on food banks.

And food inflation led the way by burning the wallets of Canadians in August.

Statistics Canada reported general inflation of 7%.

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But grocery store prices — in particular — rose nearly 11% — the fastest rate in 41 years.

Gemma Donn started volunteering at the Parkdale Food Bank at the start of the pandemic after her job as a musician dried up.

“Over the past six months, especially with inflation, there are a lot more people who just can’t afford grocery prices anymore,” said Donn, who runs the volunteer and delivery programs. form the bank.

From serving approximately 2,000 people each month, the Parkdale Food Bank now serves 8,000 people per month.

« We’re seeing families who maybe weren’t struggling as much before COVID, » Donn said.

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