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'So difficult to make ends meet': More Nova Scotians than ever seeking help at food banks

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It's busier than ever at Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank in Halifax.

Since January, it has seen an increase of almost 1,000 new clients.

"We are seeing a lot of the new registrations that we receive, they are in fact working, they do have a job, but it has been so difficult to make ends meet," said Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank executive director Denise Daley.

According to Feed Nova Scotia, approximately 22 per cent of people seeking help have full time jobs, which is the highest that number has ever been.

A new survey by Nanos Research for CTV News revealed nearly one in five Canadians have either used a food bank, or know someone who has, in the past 12 months.

The numbers are even higher in Atlantic Canada, with nearly a quarter of respondents saying they or someone they know have gone to a food bank.

"The numbers, I think, are understated. First, it takes a tremendous amount of courage," said Nick Jennery, Feed Nova Scotia executive director. "The second thing is, it requires a lot of trust to walk through the doors of a family resource, centre, a food bank, a shelter."

Feed Nova Scotia has been helping a record amount of people since 2022. In 2023 it saw a 27 per cent increase. So far, 2024 is on track to see another record high.

"Another element that really concerns me is around 15 per cent of people reaching out for support are first-time clients, so they have never had to do this before in their lives," said Jennery.

It's a similar story at Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank.

"It's all hands on deck a lot of the time, especially when we get a whack of stuff coming in at once," said Jeff Brooks, food program coordinator. "Anything we get is usually out within the next couple of days."

Volunteers are hard at work ensuring no one leaves empty-handed.

"The rate at which our clients are coming, it's much higher than the rates at which donors are coming, so we have to then recalculate and make ends meet, because nobody leaves without a food box," said Daley.

According to the Nanos survey, about a third of respondents blame higher food costs on grocery stores increasing prices to make more of a profit, while 21 per cent blame increased fuel costs, and 13 per cent put the blame on food manufacturers.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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