Summer food bank surge concerns programs

Food banks across the Ottawa area saw a jump in need during the summer, which is concerning since the summer is supposed to be calmer than the rest of the year.

Busiest month in 45-year history of Centretown Emergency Food Centre

More people used local food banks this summer than in years past, according to the Ottawa Food Bank's latest numbers, which is concerning for program co-ordinators because the summer is usually a quieter season.

Since January, the use of most local food banks is up between six and eight per cent over last year. For the Centretown Emergency Food Centre, August was the busiest month in its 45-year history.

"We saw a lot of clients who never had to use the food bank before," said Kerry Kaiser, who co-ordinates the program, which runs in the basement of the Centretown United Church.

"We're getting new people every day and the first thing they say is, 'I've never had to go to a food bank before,' which is really sad."

Kaiser also said her food bank is seeing more families with children.

The concern is growing, too, according to program co-ordinators, because more public servants are being laid off and rent costs are rising. That problem is two-fold because the demand increases and the donations decrease.

There are more emergency food centres operating in neighbourhoods across Ottawa, which are organized by the Ottawa Food Bank.

But for some people, including one father of five who did not want to be identified, larger families do not receive enough when they visit food banks.

The only solution, according to food banks, is to ask for more donations and open more emergency food centres.