Nova Scotia

More Nova Scotians turn to food banks as cost of living continues to rise

A growing number of Nova Scotia families are turning to food banks as the surging cost of groceries and fuel put additional strain on people’s budgets.

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Feed Nova Scotia trucks shown outside its location in Dartmouth in March 2020. (Paul Poirier/CBC)

A growing number of Nova Scotia families are turning to food banks as the surging cost of groceries and fuel put additional strain on people's budgets.

With food prices going up faster than they have in more than a decade, local charities are seeing increasing demand for their services.

"There are a lot of people living very close to the line," said Nick Jennery, executive director of Feed Nova Scotia.

Between August 2021 and January 2022, the number of new people approaching Jennery's organization for assistance grew to 900 from 600. Feed Nova Scotia supplies a network of about 140 food banks and meal programs across the province. 

Rising costs to transport food creating challenges

The costs to buy food and gas are also creating challenges for the organization itself.

"We buy about a million dollars of food a year and we have big trucks that are on the road to deliver all of that food, so that means we get less bang for our buck," said Jennery.

"The cost to get food to people who most need it is becoming more and more difficult."

The challenges are similar at the Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank, which is also being stretched by the current situation.

Compared with this time last year, the number of people requesting food boxes from the Halifax charity has gone up 22 per cent.

"There is a trend of clients continuing to come more frequently, which means they are becoming reliant on us for food assistance as opposed to us being an emergency or supplementary food program," said Amgad Zaky, the director of donor relations.

He said the push is on now to find more volunteers to keep up with the demand, as well as secure funds for a new refrigerated truck because the one they have now is at the end of its life.

"It's extremely concerning. We are expecting an increase of people reaching out for help," Zaky said.

People can contact the Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank directly if they need help.

Feed Nova Scotia recommends people call 211 as a first step. Arrangements can then be made to connect people to Feed Nova Scotia staff who can arrange for food boxes to be delivered.

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