42 per cent usage increase of Regina Food Bank | Canadian

The number of people coming through the Regina Food Bank’s doors looking for their next meal is on the rise.

According to the Regina Food Bank, usage has increased 42 per cent over the last year.

“We had a really busy year which is never a great thing,” John Bailey, the Regina Food Bank CEO said. “We’re seeing some definite effects of some economic pressures in our community.”

More children are using the food bank, with 40 per cent of users being children.

Bailey said the average user is also coming back more often than ever before.

“The average food bank user is now coming in 10 times a year, which is up quite a bit from previous years,” Bailey said. “We’re seeing not only an increase in numbers, but an increase in the depth of usage of the food bank. And I think those are very telling signs for where we’re at as a community in terms of food security.”

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Sask. NDP leader Carla Beck, said increased taxes and power bills in the province are just a few factors people are being forced to spend their money on, and is forcing difficult decisions at supper time.

“They’re using the food bank because if they don’t, they can’t pay their bills or they’re at risk of losing their house or they’re making decisions between a mortgage or power bill or what they’re putting on the table,” Beck said.

Beck said she has met with people who used to donate to the food bank, but are no longer able to with the cost of living.

“Someone said to me, ‘I used to be the one who donated. I used to be the one to give to charity, who was giving back. And I feel really bad about it, but I can’t right now. We’re barely getting by.”

The Government of Saskatchewan did not provide a comment about the Food Bank usage specifically, but rather affordability rates in the province.

“Saskatchewan offers one of the lowest utility bundles in the nation and is the most affordable province in Canada when considering taxes, utilities, and housing costs,” minister Donna Harpauer said. “Inflationary pressures, along with an increased cost of living, is driven largely by external factors such as federal interest rate

In 2022-23, the Regina Food Bank served 55,224 households, a nine per cent increase from the previous year.

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Bailey said he is nervous for the future of the Food Bank and the city, if numbers continue to grow.

“If we continue to grow like this, where we’re sort of doubling the number of people we’re serving every three or four years, it will be it’s an unsustainable pace,” Bailey said. “We’re not there yet, but we can’t continue to grow this way.”

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