A recent study by Food Banks Canada shows more than 833,000 people relied on food handouts across the country during one snapshot month.

Ruth Friendship-Keller, the manager of community partnerships for The Food Bank of Waterloo Region, says locally there has been a 5 per cent increase in families needing to access donations.

“Forty-seven per cent of the households needing food assistance are families with children, so that’s probably one of the stats that hits home the most,” said Friendship-Keller.

But a new provincial strategy known as the Local Food Act could help bring more fresh produce from farms to the region’s food banks.

Part of the strategy includes a tax credit of 25 per cent to farmers who donate their surplus harvest to community food programs. Friendship-Keller is hopeful that will result in more perishable goods being available to local families in need.

“Fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables would go far in helping the organizations that we work with,” said Friendship-Keller.

The province says the Local Food Act will also put more locally made produce into markets, schools, cafeterias, grocery stores and restaurants in an attempt to create more jobs and boost Ontario’s agricultural sector.