New Brunswick

More single people are using New Brunswick food banks

Nearly half the people using New Brunswick food banks live alone, according to a new report by Food Banks Canada.

Visits to food banks in province are up 7.9 per cent since last year, although trend is downward elsewhere

Sylvain Charlebois, the director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, said single people represent 47.9 per cent of people visiting food banks in New Brunswick. (CBC)

Nearly half the people using New Brunswick food banks live alone, according to a new report by Food Banks Canada.

"This is really problematic when you have someone visiting a food bank who lives alone," said Sylvain Charlebois, the director of the Agri-Food-Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University. "That person is actually quite financially vulnerable if that person loses a job.

"There's no one else that can bring money home to pay bills, and so you can see that these people are under a great amount of stress, and that's why food banks are quite essential."

Single people represent 47.9 per cent of the people visiting food banks in New Brunswick, according to Food Banks Canada's 2019 Hunger Count report. 

"Many of them actually are people on fixed income or retired, older folks," Charlebois said.

In Canada, the number of visits to food banks has decreased but that didn't happen in New Brunswick.

Visits to the province's 58 food banks has increased 7.9 per cent since last year.

"When you look at economies, they tend to have a huge impact on people's lives — less jobs and, of course, people need more help," Charlebois said. 

Chantal Senecal, the excutive director of Food Depot Alimentaire in Moncton, said communities in New Brunswick are dealing with a housing crisis. (Kate Letterick/CBC)

"That may be the reason why you're seeing a difference in the province unfortunately, but food banks are getting help."

Charlebois said the federal food policy that was implemented in 2017 has allowed food banks to help more people but the executive director of Food Depot Alimentaire in Moncton said it's preventive measures that really make change.

Chantal Senecal said she noticed a decrease in families using food banks after the child tax benefits increased federally — but she believes more needs to be done.

She said many communities, including Moncton, are dealing with a housing crisis, so people can't find affordable housing.

Food banks can spend their money more efficiently than the average shopper, meaning they can buy more (and the right kinds) of food when they need it most. 1:58

"I think that we sometimes focus on maybe single parents or children and I feel like maybe single people get left behind in terms of services," Senecal said.

She said people often have to choose between rent or groceries.

Senecal also said it's especially difficult for people who are single and have a disability.

"If you can't work, then you're stuck on social assistance or disability benefits, which we all know in New Brunswick, is not enough to survive on," she said.

Food banks are always looking for food and monetary donations. (Angela Bosse/CBC)

Charlebois said food banks are always looking for food and monetary donations.

"It's not just a place where people end up because they want to go there," he said. "They need to go there."

"And by connecting with clients, people who actually do visit food banks, you realize by putting a human face on people who need food banks, you realize that you're lucky, and you're there to help others that are not so lucky."

With files from Information Morning Saint John, Information Morning Moncton

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