'We're incredibly concerned about a huge increase in clients': food bank director
SHEDIAC, N.B. -- Food banks across New Brunswick saw a spike in usage at the beginning of the pandemic.
But since then, numbers at the Shediac food bank have been fluctuating from what's normally an average of 700 clients a month.
"That dipped down to about four hundred and fifty during the subsidies, around June," said Marc Leblanc, the Shediac food bank executive director. "And now, we're up 47 per cent, back to the regular numbers. However we don't see a decline, we just see this line continuing to spike up."
There has been a similar spike at the Ray of Hope Soup Kitchen in Moncton, which is now serving meals to around 200 people a day.
"Some of the need could be for some of the programs that are falling off," said Ray of Hope manager Greg Fennel."Also some of our clients are on minimum wage jobs, and some of them I don't think have gone back to work yet."
During the summer months, food bank numbers were stabilized as many were receiving the CERB benefit.
"With the CERB benefit ending at the end of this month, we're incredibly concerned about a huge increase in clients going to foodbanks very quickly," said Chantal Senecal, the Food Depot Alimentaire executive director.
At the Karing Kitchen, takeout meals are being served through Plexiglas.
"We closed our doors march 20, to the public and started serving meals at the door," said Bruce Lawson, the manager at Karing Kitchen."So, we were about 150-160 a day, down to approximately 120-130. But overall as of the end of August, we're only down 10 per cent year over year."
There's now concern for serving food outside during the winter months and how to avoid overcapacity at food banks.
"We have to look at basic income, income assistance and disability levels, as well as incentivizing work and also looking at the high food costs in New Brunswick," Senecal said.
Senecal says donations are currently down at local food banks and the need continues to grow.