It's the busiest time of the year for food banks in the Maritimes, with many flooded with donations at Christmas — but some are still lacking the items people need the most.

Mike MacDonald, who runs the Upper Room Food Bank in Charlottetown, said baby items are a few of the in-demand items that tend to be in short supply.

“We do see, unfortunately, a lot of infants. We see a lot of families,” he said.

“I would say probably the biggest thing is baby products. Certainly the jars of baby food, diapers, formula are probably one of the things that are requested the most that we don't always have the variety or assortment that we would like to have.”

While getting enough baby products is the biggest struggle for his food bank, it's not the only one.

food bank

People may not realize that most food banks have freezers to keep meat for those in need. (CBC)

“Protein items are quite important for us,” said MacDonald.

People may not know the food bank has a freezer that can handle frozen protein such as ground meat and turkeys.

This Christmas it was filled with turkeys donated through CBC P.E.I.'s annual turkey drive. But MacDonald said many Islanders don't realize they can bring any kind of frozen meat, any time.

The Salvation Army works a bit differently. It collects money and instead of food, it gives out gift cards.

Capt. Jamie Locke said it's their way of meeting the needs of their clients, instead of relying on donations that sometimes fall short.

“Nobody would know your needs better than you, yourself. There could be dietary restrictions and when you place a gift card in a person's hand then they can go out and select for themselves, just what they need,” he said.

Locke said there's something empowering about that.

“It just brings dignity to the whole process where they can go out and purchase the things that they need,” he said.

Back at the food bank, MacDonald said the needs of the community are constantly changing.

He recommends those who want to donate, contact the food bank, to find out what they need the most.