Families in the Greater Charlottetown area struggling with the cost of school supplies can tap into some extra help this year.

The Upper Room Food Bank is partnering with the United Way, Staples, Murphy's Pharmacies to provide a baskets of school supplies to families that need them this summer. The program is similar to the annual Christmas hamper program. Families sign up, and provided with a basket of goods along with a gift card.

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With the introduction of the HST, school supplies will cost a little bit more this year. (CBC)

Food bank manager Mike MacDonald said he often sees an increase in demand at the end of the summer as parents make difficult decisions about where to spend their money, food or school supplies. School supplies cost more this year with the introduction of the harmonized sales tax, so the program is starting at a good time.

"Any increase impacts everybody, and especially those that are already struggling," said MacDonald.

"We're very fortunate that these groups came to us and wanted to find a way to get school supplies to people in need."

Amy Swallow MacDonald of the United Way sees the $40 gift card in each basket as a special bonus.

"I hope it helps the kids get a little excited about going back to school," she said.

"It is going to be a combination of actual supplies and a gift card so that way the kids still get to go and purchase some of their supplies themselves."   Donations will be accepted at Charlottetown area Murphy's Pharmacies, Staples, The United way and at the Upper room Food Bank. Families will receive their help by the end of August.