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Moncton food bank traffic doubles since the same time last year

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With prices rising almost everywhere, going to the grocery store has become a more complicated task for many Maritimers.

“Usually I calculate with my working hours. So I wanted to buy something and I say, ‘Okay, I have to work 60 minutes to afford myself like a sour cream for example or this bar of chocolate,’” said Denys Pechenin.

Originally from Ukraine, Pechenin moved to Moncton nearly eight months ago and he says the cost of food his higher than he expected.

He’s now one of hundreds who lean on the Peter McKee Community Food Centre for help.

“I can’t buy everything I want, I just buy what I need to. I’m going to the foodbank to get some basic stuff like bread and pasta, sauce,” he said. “It’s much better because from the food bank I have some special products that usually I don’t buy so I can cook something special.”

Overall, the need for help is rising.

General manager Christine Taylor says each day the food bank sees an influx in clients – numbers that don’t compare to previous years.

“We’re around 200 people a day, 200 clients a day. Last year was between 80-85. That was busy and then it’s steadily been climbing every month and now there’s been a couple of days where we’ve gone over 200 people,” said Taylor.

Taylor noted these numbers only take into consideration Moncton residents who are looking for help, not the tri-community that includes Riverview and Dieppe.

As of Thursday afternoon, Taylor said there are more than 90 applications waiting to be processed and that doesn’t include any that might have come in Wednesday night or during the day on Thursday.

“Right now we’re struggling every day to get caught up,” she said. “[Wednesday], for the first time, we could not close at lunch time for the volunteers to have their lunch break. We actually didn’t get to shut down until 12:30 and that’s the first time that’s ever happened here.”

More than ever, the centre needs community support.

Taylor says there is a big focus being put on fundraising right now to make sure there’s enough food on the shelves to meet the growing need.

She says right now donations and volunteers are needed.

“We don’t have a monthly revenue stream so we depend on grant funding, private and business donations. We also need human resources. We need more volunteers. We need specialized skills so like administrative skills to help us with this backlog of applications,” she said.

“In terms of businesses, not only is it helping us with financial support, but if there’s any businesses out there that have plumbers, electricians, landscapers, snow plow remover, if they could provide that support to us… that’s enormous.”

The Peter McKee Community Food Centre is a registered charity and can give charity receipts to businesses or donors who are able to help out.

On top of the daily demands, the food bank also just opened registration for Christmas Boxes this week.

The plan is to provide 1,700 boxes this year and registration is open until either Dec. 13, or when they hit their maximum.

Taylot says there are two extra volunteers helping with registration and each is seeing about 100 per day.

“I know it’s very busy, I know people are having a hard time getting through. Just be patient and just keep trying,” said Taylor.

To help, Peter McKee also kicked off its 30 days of Caring campaign on Wednesday. Events this year include an RCMP run food drive at the Moncton Santa Claus Parade this Saturday and an Advent Calendar initiative that asks for a different food item every day.

Despite the increasing need this year, Taylor remains optimistic and confident in crucial role that the food bank plays in the community.

“I’m not going to think that we’re going to ever shut the doors. I know that’s never going to happen because I just know, I feel it in my heart, we have enough community support,” she said.

“It’s sad and it’s worrisome to see that people are in need of the basic necessities of life. It’s also, kind of bittersweet, because it feels very good and warming to see community come together and help out.”

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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