As the snow melts and fields are being prepped for spring, it’s easy to imagine all the delicious, healthy produce that will soon be growing in and around Chatham-Kent.
But the truth is, food in the fields doesn’t always mean food on the shelves. As the pandemic continues to evolve and world events drive gas and food prices even higher, families are struggling to put healthy food on their tables.
Food banks often see higher-than-average client use during the month of March, just as inventory from holiday food drives is nearly used up. The increase in food bank usage since 2020 has put even more strain on local food banks and services to keep up with the demand.
According to Feed Ontario’s 2021 Hunger Report, the first year of the pandemic (April 1, 2020-March 31, 2021) resulted in a 10% increase in food bank usage over the previous year – the highest increase since 2009.
It’s a trend that we know is reflected in food bank usage in Chatham-Kent. Rose-Anne Mayor, Manager of the Tilbury Information and HELP Centre, said she is also seeing more people use the food bank for the first time.
“What I’m seeing now is seniors, single people, and couples who are struggling. Maybe their income hasn’t changed since the pandemic, but the cost of living has.”
Rose-Anne adds that an average of 200 clients use the food bank in Tilbury each month.
The Feed Ontario report also states that 50% of food bank visitors say that an inability to pay for food on top of housing and utility costs is their primary reason for using a food bank. With gas and housing prices at all-time highs, the use of food banks is anticipated to rise even higher as well.
The simplest and most immediate way to help, is to donate to one of Chatham-Kent’s local food banks. But Rose-Anne Mayor asks that, while all help is appreciated, you carefully consider your donation. Food near its expiry cannot be managed closely enough to be distributed safely, and may have to be thrown out. She also wants to remind people that many food banks have refrigerators and freezers, so fresh food can be safely stored. “Think about what you would like to eat, and when you are grocery shopping, pick up one extra of those things.”
This year, we can help ensure that when we see the fields filled with food, shelves in CK homes will be as well.
When thinking about donating to a food bank:
- Donate the food that you like to eat!
- Consider the diversity of cultures and homes in CK.
- Find out if your local food bank takes fresh bread, produce, milk, dairy, and eggs.
- Do not donate food that is close to its expiry.
- Consider easy-to-open cans and containers. Not everybody has a can opener.
- Remember that hygiene items (pads, tampons, shampoo, razors, deodorant) are some of the most requested items.
- Don’t forget about pets!
- Think outside the pasta box (most food banks have more than enough pasta, soup, and beans).
To find foodbanks in Chatham Kent, call 211 or contact:
Food Link Chatham-Kent | Lets Talk Food (letstalkfood-ck.com)
Home | Wheatley Area Food Bank (villageresourcecentre.ca)
It’s Jeffery Parker’s birthday!
Help celebrate the co-founder of R.O.C.K. Mission’s birthday by donating his favourite foods! R.O.C.K. Missions will be hosting Peanut Butter & Jam Day on March 28 with a drop-off event at the 425 McNaughton Ave West in Chatham. Come say happy birthday and donate to a great cause!