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Need at Summerland Food Bank continues to increase

Growing number of families with children are accessing services
The Sharing Stand at the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre is open every Tuesday afternoon and provides food to people in the community. At present, the need for food and shelter is increasing in Summerland. (Contributed)

The need for food and other assistance is getting worse in Summerland, according to the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre.

At the municipal council meeting on July 18, Hal Roberts, resource coordinator at the centre, said the need has been increasing in recent years, especially among families with children.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, families with children made up 20 to 25 per cent of food bank users during a given month. In May, 2022, this number had risen to 31.5 per cent and by December, 2022, it had reached 38.5 per cent.

READ ALSO: Summerland Food Bank demand rising

READ ALSO: Demand increasing at Summerland Food Bank

“Food insecurity is affecting a larger spectrum of the population,” he said. “In Summerland, we have seen an increase in working people and two-income families who require support with receiving food.”

Inflation has increased in recent months, and this has affected food prices.

Federal statistics for June 2023, which were released last week, showed grocery prices rose by 9.1 per cent compared to the same month a year earlier.

However, Roberts said the problem is not the cost of food but rather a lack of adequate income.

Roberts is also noticing growing issues around housing in Summerland and a lack of affordable housing within the community.

According to the inflation statistics from June 2023, mortgage interest rates rose by 30.1 per cent compared with the same month in 2022. The rate affects costs for homeowners and renters.

“It is painful to see people who want to remain in this community being compelled to leave to pursue housing options in other communities,” Roberts said.

He has also noticed an increase in the number of unhoused people in Summerland. In January, 2023, there were eight people in Summerland with no fixed address. In June, there were 13, he said.

“Even though none of these people have a fixed address, they all identify as being Summerland residents. Due to various life circumstances, they have reached a point where they have no access to secure accommodations” he said.

He added that in the summer of 2022, two families with children were living in forestry service campsites near the community.

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John Arendt

About the Author: John Arendt

John Arendt has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. He has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism degree from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
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