'People watch each and every price': Rising food prices changing shopping habits in Kitchener

As food prices in Canada continue to soar, more people are looking for cheaper options at the grocery store and cutting back on some items.

Rakesh Patel who owns Upper Village Market in Kitchener said he’s noticing people are buying fewer items.

“People watch each and every price. If it’s not good according to their budget, then they avoid it.”

Patel said even though people aren’t buying as much, sales haven’t decreased, due to the rising cost of food.

“The volume capacity is low but when the price is high, then the sale volume is almost the same,” Patel said.

A recent report by Statistics Canada found food inflation in the country has reached 7.4 per cent, and that number will likely continue to rise.

The Food Bank of Waterloo Region said there’s been a 40 per cent increase of people accessing its services in the last year.

“Now more than ever, the financial pressures are putting so much strain on households as they have to choose between paying rent or buying groceries,” said Kim Wilhem with the food bank. “We welcomed more 740 new families who accessed food services for the first time.”

'OUR COMMUNITY IS STRUGGLING'

To help with food insecurity, Community Fridge KW has reopened.

The fridge, located outside the Kitchener Market, is open 24-hours a day and people can grab fresh food from it when they need.

“Take what you need, leave what you can. It’s as simple as that, truly,” said Kamil Ahmed, organizer of Community Fridge KW. “It’s really important for mutual aid demonstrations, such as community fridges, to exist in urban settings where we know there are a lot of people struggling to access foods and other services.”

Ahmed said since it’s creation in August 2020, the number of people using the community fridge has increased.

“Use and need has gone up, and partially that’s because of increased prices,” Ahmed said. “But generally, the pandemic and the last couple of years have formed that need as well. So there’s a lot of things at play that tell us our community is struggling.”