To mark the second donation Tuesday during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Center is asking people a question: would you know if your neighbor is hungry?
The campaign aims to drive food and funds comes amid increased use of food banks over the past six months in Saskatoon. There is usually an additional jump every December with people’s budgets pressed for the holiday season.
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The situation looks like the perfect storm, according to Laurie O’Connor, executive director of the food bank.
“The pandemic, the rising cost of food and housing, inflation is really taking its toll,” O’Connor said.
“In this province, that social safety net feels threatened and there are many challenges with the new income assistance program.”
More than 18,000 people use the food bank each month in Saskatoon and almost half of them are children.
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With the onset of the pandemic, national demand for Salvation Army services in 2020 reached its highest level since World War II. In Saskatoon last year, 2,000 additional families needed help compared to a typical year.
“Last year, we were quite concerned that we might not reach our goal, but we actually did,” said Major Judy Regamey of the Salvation Army of Saskatoon. “The people of Saskatoon just arrived.”
The boiler campaign is back in Saskatoon for 2021 with a goal of $ 350,000. So far, the organization has raised approximately $ 25,000.
“I have no doubt that we will raise it,” Regamey said.
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The charities’ struggles during the pandemic are articulated in an Imagine Canada study published in August, which showed that more than four in 10 charities still faced declines in revenue.
Among the groups that were adversely affected, there was an average 44 percent drop in revenue.
“If you look at 2009 and the global economic collapse, the average decline at that time was 1 percent,” said Bruce MacDonald, president and CEO of Imagine Canada.
“So it’s a much larger scale than we’ve seen in the past.”
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