A rise in food prices across Canada has food banks concerned about how many more people might need help, but also about the amount of donations coming in. Brandon's largest food bank is no exception.
Samaritan House Ministries typically gives out between 1,400 and 1,600 hampers per month, according to executive director Thea Dennis. It's a number that has been steadily rising, with increases over the past two months alone.
- Brandon's largest food bank has more users than ever before
- Inflation in Canada ticks up to 1.6% in December on higher food prices
But according to Dennis, the most uncertainty comes with how much people will be able to donate. Samaritan House relies heavily on donations from the public and community agencies to fill food hampers for clients. Finding items such as fresh vegetables is always a challenge in the winter.
"We have had a lot of involvement with our community and they are very generous," she said. "We will see what happens over the next weeks and months to see how they are boding."
According to data released by Statistics Canada on Friday, Canadians paid 3.7 per cent more for food last month than they did in the same month a year earlier. Prices for fresh produce were up more than 13 per cent in December compared to a year earlier.
Dennis hopes that if people need to scale back how much they give because of cost, they will instead give back with their time volunteering. She said it's been stressful not knowing what to expect for donations when they come in.
"When we look at people giving to the food bank, anything they can give is support," Dennis said. "We'll see what happens in the next few months with the food prices."
Samaritan House to help clients grow gardens
One way Samaritan House is hoping to combat the high food prices is to help food bank users grow their own gardens.
The organization recently took over a community garden operation and plans to not only grow fresh produce over the summer months for use in hampers, but also give clients space to grow their own.
"I think that anyone learning how to garden or create their own food is a bonus," Dennis said. "But it secures that food for the next fall."
She admits that while it won't help families get through the winter months, but will certainly help them through the summer and fall.
Samaritan House is Manitoba's second largest food bank, according to the organization.