Windsor charities keeping a close eye on rising food prices

Some local charities are closely watching the rising price of food and worrying about how it may affect their operations.
Robert Bertozzi, the head chef at Windsor's Plentiful Harvest Community Kitchen, says food prices have been rising in recent weeks. (CBC)

Some local charities are closely watching the rising price of food and worrying about how it may affect their operations.

The Food Institute of the University of Guelph issued a report in December predicting that food prices will rise between two and four per cent this year.

But at Windsor's Plentiful Harvest Community Kitchen, head chef Robert Bertozzi said he believes the cost of food is already on the rise.

"In the past two months, the increase in price has been very drastic," he told CBC News in an interview. "In the past 15 years I've been doing this, I've never seen an increase on so many different items."

Bertozzi said the increase goes beyond the typical seasonal price shift. He said everything he orders is a lot more expensive.

The chef said that the price of celery is a "perfect example" of what he has been seeing.

"Normally [a] case would cost $30. Right now it costs about $89," said Bertozzi.

In some cases, Bertozzi said adjustments are being made to recipes because of rising costs.

His kitchen makes food for programs like Meals on Wheels. He said they're pinching where they can to avoid passing on higher costs.

"We're looking at ways to save and to cut some of the costs," said Bertozzi, noting that he and his colleagues are working hard to reduce any waste of ingredients.

June Muir of the Unemployed Help Centre said that, as food prices rise, it may increase the need among clients.

"We could see more people coming more frequently," she told CBC News. "That means that we're going to have to keep more food on our shelves."

The report from the Food Institute suggested that the falling loonie and El Niño would be two major factors affecting food prices in 2016.

With files from the CBC's Joana Draghici

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