Petrolia Food Bank use doubles

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Blake Ellis
Local Journalism Initiative

The number of people looking for help from the Petrolia Food Bank has doubled in November.
That from Sandra Hartman of the local food bank on the heels of a report from Feed Ontario which says the number of people needing help is soaring.
Feed Ontario says April 2021 and March over 587,000 people have accessed a food bank in Ontario making more than 4.3 million visits in a year. That is a 15 percent increase this year.
Feed Ontario says this is the sixth year of increasing food bank use – with a 42 per cent increase since the pandemic started.
In Petrolia, the food bank has seen the demand for its services increase in the last few months.
While the first half of 2022 was pretty steady, usage has increased by 35 percent between July and September and, in the last two months, the number of people seeking help has doubled.
In the last four weeks, a total of 213 people have come in, said Hartman. That’s compared to between 100 and 120 clients for the same period in past Novembers.
Hartman says has seen people come to the food bank recently who have never used the service before, while others have come back to the food bank who have not used the services in quite some time.

One in three coming into food banks in Ontario have never used a food bank before, according to Feed Ontario.
One new client arrived in tears recounted Hartman.
The bulk of the people needing help are the working, pensioners and on the Ontario Disability Support Program. There is also a small number of people who rely on the Ontario Works program.

The price of groceries and cost of gas to get to and from work are two of things, which are stretching the budgets of those who are using the food bank. An increase in utility costs will further put pressure on household budgets, as we move into the winter months. Canada’s inflation rate sat at 6.9 percent in October, unchanged from September.
Rising inflation has also limited the food bank’s stock. Hartman said the food banks supplies are dwindling fast. She purchased $500 worth of meat on Friday and it was gone Monday.
The food bank has been purchasing food on sale. “I make every penny stretch,” said Hartman, as she said every effort is made to help anyone in need adding they “always find a way.”
At least for now. Hartman says people are stretched to the limit. “Something has to give,” said Hartman, as she looks to the future, and hopes some form of relief might be coming for those struggling day to day.