Why is food bank use increasing as the pandemic subsides? Officials are not sure

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More people are using London’s food bank as the pandemic eases, but it’s unclear why.

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More people are using London’s food bank as the pandemic eases, but it’s unclear why.

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“I just think there’s a lot going on that we just don’t understand, but it’s not a good picture,” said Glen Pearson, co-director of the London Food Bank.

The number of people seeking help from the South London Neighborhood Resource Center food bank has also increased recently, after leveling off during the first months of the new service, said executive director Nancy Needham.

“Our numbers were starting to increase (two weeks ago),” Needham said. “We thought they were settling in, but at the beginning of July, they started to go up. I do not know why.

Comparing the months of May to July 2021 to the same time a year ago, the number of families visiting the central food bank depot on Leathorne Street increased 23%, Pearson said.

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The recent increase could be due to people still not working or losing their homes, while government assistance dwindles, he said.

“I think people are reluctant to go back to work. They know the new COVID (Delta variant) is here and they will likely be fired again, ”Pearson said. “The other part is that the rents are really going up and people can’t stay where they were anymore. “

The federal government on Wednesday announced a top-up of $ 100 million to its emergency food security fund, of which $ 25 million will be distributed through Food Banks Canada to local banks across Canada.

“One in seven Canadians lives in a household where there has been food insecurity for a period of one month during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has led more and more Canadians to turn to food banks to feed their families, with disproportionate impacts on the most vulnerable, ”said the federal announcement.

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But some food banks in Canada, including the one in London, saw their numbers drop during the pandemic from 2019, attributed mainly to payments from the Canadian Emergency Benefit to families and in part to fears of using public transport. to reach central depots.

Even with the recent increase in the number of families visiting the central depot in London, the numbers for 2021 have yet to reach 2019 levels.

In May this year, central south London launched its food bank service, and four YMCA London branches followed suit in June. Eventually, four other resource centers will offer a food bank service. All of these neighborhood branches could reduce the need at the central depot.

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BY THE NUMBERS

Families assisted by the London Food Bank, May to July 2021

2019: 10,029

2020: 6,784

2021: 8 364

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