Nfld. & Labrador

Demand spikes at MUN food bank with nearly 100 more hamper requests than last year

As the year nears its end, one food bank is seeing a significant increase in users.

‘That small group is getting bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger,' food bank president says

Paul Murphy, president of the MUN campus food bank, says usage is up 350 per cent in the last five years. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Memorial University's campus food bank has seen a significant increase in people needing help this year, according to those who run the non-profit.

Paul Murphy, president of the MUN campus food bank, said the food bank has seen a 350 per cent spike over the past five years.

In 2019, 325 people requested Christmas hampers, compared with 229 hampers in 2018.

"They're not people who are panhandling on the corners or anything like that. They're nice, decent young people. A lot of our population is student population," said Murphy. 

The food bank, located on MUN's St. John's campus, has been in operation since 1996.

Shelves are stocked with donations in the MUN campus food bank. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

According to Murphy, it mainly serves students, but sometimes alumni and retirees stop by to pick up hampers of food. 

"Everybody who comes here doesn't necessarily come here every month," he said.

Helping newcomers adjust

Murphy said he has noticed a trend in the demographic.

"Most of the people that come to this food bank are international students. If you're a Newfoundlander, you're probably established at another food bank," he said. 

"We provide maybe about a week's groceries just to get you over that hump that some people encounter because they can't stretch their money to last the whole month."

He said it shouldn't be assumed that all students from outside of the country are "a great flurry of people who come in and are inundating the food bank." He said that, like locals, some of them just need help with groceries.

"Like in our own population, it's just a small group who are finding it hard to get through. And that small group is getting bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Here & Now