Thunder Bay food bank use down, but challenges remain

A new report shows that food banks across the country — including Thunder Bay — have been a little less busy this year than they were in 2012.

National report shows fewer food bank users this year than in 2012

Nina Parkarri, 42, has been visiting food banks in Thunder Bay since July. (Adam Burns/CBC)

A new report shows that food banks across the country — including Thunder Bay — have been a little less busy this year than they were in 2012.

But the numbers are still well above pre-recession levels, and those using the city's food banks still face challenges.

Nina Parkarri's doctors recently told her to stop working because of a heart condition, and she's been using food banks since July.
    
"There's a lot of food banks in town that cater to families only. You get turned away because you don't have children," she said. "Then there's other ones that are dedicated to only certain wards ... So the choices for me have narrowed down completely."

A report from Food Banks Canada shows that although fewer Canadians are accessing food banks this year, the numbers are still more than 20% higher than in 2008.

Salvation Army community services director Rob Kerr. (Adam Burns/CBC)

Salvation Army community services director Rob Kerr says those high figures makes it hard to provide clients such as Parkkari with the help they need.

"We try to do whatever we can for anyone who comes through our doors," Kerr said. "We're part of a network, so the strain is on the whole network. It's not just us."

Parkkari said visiting a food bank in Thunder Bay still comes with a stigma.

"You hear negative comments, from by-passers, just saying, 'Ah, they went to the food bank again. I guess they couldn't get their butt off the couch to go find a job,'" she said.

Parkkari wishes the people who say those things could spend a day — or a week — in her shoes.

On December 6th CBC Thunder Bay will dedicate the day to encouraging donations to the Regional Food Distribution Association. Go to cbc.ca/thunderbay and look for the Sounds of the Season link for more details.

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