Food bank demand down in N.L.

Demand on food banks in the province easing, according to Food Banks Canada.

Demand on food banks in Newfoundland and Labrador is easing, according to Food Banks Canada — an organization that represents and supports food banks across the country.

Although more people are using the service nationwide, fewer people in the province are visiting food banks.

Eg Walters said although fewer people are using food banks in the province this year, the numbers are still too high.

Eg Walters, executive director of the Community Food Sharing Association — a group that collects and distributes food in the province, has noticed the change.

He says three years ago, more than 32,000 people were using food banks each month — a figure that dropped by about 5,000 people per month in 2012.

But Walters cautions this is still a considerable demand.

"While it's positive, and the trend is good, certainly having 27,000 people returning to food banks in Newfoundland and Labrador is still excessive," said Walters.

He says some areas are having trouble keeping up. For example, the food bank at Grand Bank-Fortune, in the Burin Peninsula, was running short on Friday, so the organization sent two pallets of food out that way.

Walters said northern communities are particularly hard to keep well-stocked. The association sent close to five pallets of food to Nain this week, and is planning another shipment to Cartwright.

"Any place within the island, we're usually able to get it there pretty well overnight or the next day, but it's always a challenge when you're dealing with northern points," said Walters. "You have to use boats and trucks, and everything to try to move product around."

Another challenge food banks are facing is the rising price of food and fuel.

"Without the general public really getting on board and helping, we're just unable to do it," said Walters.

He points out that many in the province are living on the edge.

"A lot of people out there are one cheque away from using a food bank," said Walters.

"The typical food bank user could live next door to you or me."