High cost of groceries worrying North Bay area food banks and charities

The cost of groceries continues to climb, leaving North Bay-area food banks and charities to worry as inflation rises. (Eric Taschner/CTV News)

The cost of groceries continues to climb, leaving North Bay-area food banks and charities to worry as inflation rises.

Grocery prices have climbed nearly four per cent, while meat jumped 9.5 per cent. Pushing up the prices are supply-chain constraints, higher demand and labour force shortages that are increasing employee costs.

It’s a worrisome trend for staff at The Gathering Place soup kitchen as it serves hot meals for dinner to more than 200 people.

“That’s going to be an impact on any charity,” said executive director Dennis Chippa. “But a charity that bases itself entirely on donations like we are, it’s going to be difficult.”

Grocery prices have been on a steady rise since the beginning of the pandemic and both COVID-19 and climate change are the drivers behind the increases. Canadian grain farmers have had a tough year as droughts have damaged crops.

“There are some people at home right now making tough decisions,” said Chippa. “Decisions around rent and food. Inflation has gone up and that has impacted us and them.”

Chippa expects by the Holidays, The Gathering Place will see new customers and regulars come back even more often because they won’t be able to afford the necessities.

Over at the Callander Food Bank, Maureen Carrier and Deborah Hickey help provide food for 70 families struggling to make ends meet. They, too, have seen the prices go up.

“We are noticing the costs to buy the same amount of groceries now is significantly more than it would have been two years ago,” said Hickey.

With many places beginning to open up, demand has soared. Manufacturers and the agriculture businesses are struggling to keep up. Overall, Canada’s inflation rate has grown by more than four per cent. It’s the highest hike since 2003, according to Statistics Canada.

“We’ve already grown since September. September and October for both months, actually. People are really in need. Prices are rising. It’s a fact of life. People are not doing well economically,” said Carrier.

Experts said the cost of groceries could level out sometime next spring.