Officials with the Salvation Army food bank in Summerside, P.E.I. are blaming cold weather and a shortage of employment insurance for a dramatic increase in demand.

Karen Mallett - custom

The Salvation Army food bank is seeing a lot of new people, and a lot of people who haven't been there in a long time, says Karen Mallett. (CBC)

Karen Mallett, a community ministries worker, said the food bank normally helps 20 to 22 people a day, three days a week. That has jumped to 40 or 45.

Mallett said some of the people coming in are new, and others are people they haven't seen in a long time.

"Most of the time it seems to be that it is because unemployment has run out. They are waiting for their new claims to open," she said.

"A lot of the older clients that we have coming in, it is because they are going to have to start filling their oil tanks."

Mallet expects demand for Christmas hampers will be high this year. The Summerside Salvation Army food bank alone has already processed more than 300 applications.