Windsor food bank use climbs, despite provincial drop

Food bank use in Canada shows a surge in demand in most parts of the country. Though overall numbers dropped in Ontario, Windsor food banks continue to see more people using their services.

Windsor food banks serve nearly 2,000 first-time households this year

Food bank use in Canada is on the rise, including in Windsor. (CBC)

The Windsor Essex Food Bank Association has served more than 21,000 people so far this year, including nearly 2,000 households using the food bank for the first time. 

In March of this year, they served 8112 people, nearly 1000 more than March 2015. 

Rising food bank use is similar in most parts of the country, according to a recent report from Food Banks Canada, which found every province had an increase. Some regions saw double-digit spikes. 

Ontario and Manitoba were the exceptions in the national report. The two provinces saw a decline in food bank use. 

Windsor is one of the few Ontario regions still seeing growth in food bank use, according to officials with the Unemployed Help Centre, which stocks food bank shelves throughout the region.

"We just don't see a decrease in our numbers," said Mike Turnbull, food rescue program manager.

Unemployment figures in Windsor have been dropping in recent months, but that shift has not had much impact on food bank clients.

"We don't really see it here," Turnbull said. "A lot of that, I believe, is precarious work, part-time work, contract work. It's not keeping up with the cost of living.

Hydro costs and food prices make it difficult for people earning minimum wage, even if they are working, explained Turnbull.

"Folks are trying to make a decision whether to pay a hydro bill or put food on the table," he said. "They're faced with a lot of tough decisions."