Food Banks Canada report shines light on rising cost of living

Students at the University of Victoria can attest that times are tight.

“Cost of living is a lot, food, everything,” says Hailey Gascoigne, a second-year UVic student.

Gas hitting record highs, housing costs have gone through the roof.

“It’s crazy,” says Gascoigne. “It’s gone up exponentially.”

New data released by Food Banks Canada paints a picture of just how tough it has become for some.

One in five Canadians report missing meals because they can’t afford food.

Twenty-three per cent report eating less than they think they should and 61 per cent of Canadians believe that rising housing costs are the biggest barrier preventing Canadians from being able to afford food.

That is putting a huge strain on food banks across the country.

“This speaks to a level of need across the country that we are likely to have never seen in our history,” says Kirstin Beardsley, CEO of Food Banks Canada.

“Yes, I have accessed the food bank here,” says Emma Skaug, a fourth-year kinesiology student at UVic. “It’s a wonderful service.”

Skaug turns to the food bank two to four times a month.

She says the service saves her roughly $30 to $40 each trip.

“So having access to that and being part of UVSS [the University of Victoria Student Society] really does help me,” she says. “I spend that money on other areas in my life which can help my sporting career and academic career move forward.”

The UVSS, which operates the food bank and a “free store,” says demand is extremely high for its services.

Typically demand dwindles heading into the summer months but not this year.

“It’s a tough time to be a food banker in this country,” says Beardsley.

There has been an increased reliance on food banks from within the community. Food costs are rising meaning food bank’s buying power is shrinking and donations are down, she says.

“People’s budgets are stretched,” says Beardsley. “So even if you’re not in need of a food bank or you’re not going to food bank, you might not be in a position anymore to give food or funds.”

That is leaving a hole in a service that is in need now more than ever.

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