Kanata Food Cupboard sees increase in demand as food, household costs rise

The Kanata Food Cupboard is preparing Easter hampers for residents but the need has increased because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Kanata Food Cupboard)

The Kanata Food Cupboard is reporting a steep increase in the number of families reaching out for assistance through the first two weeks of January, as food prices and household costs continue to increase.

"Just the first two weeks of January, compared to January last year, we saw 24 per cent more families representing 22 per cent more individuals, including children, and 89 per cent more new families," said Kaitlyn Lalonde, client and community outreach coordinator at the Kanata Food Cupboard.

"We do serve a rather high volume of families that are new to Canada or find themselves in transitional housing."

Lalonde adds the Kanata Food Cupboard sees several new families a day reaching out for assistance.

A poll from the Angus Reid Institute, released on Friday, showed that 57 per cent of Canadians reported having a difficult time feeding their family recently, up from 36 per cent in 2019.

Statistics Canada reported on Wednesday that Canada's inflation rate in December was the highest since 1991, at 4.8 per cent. Items that saw large year-over-year increases in prices between December 2020 and December 2021 included gasoline, sugar, bacon, white sugar and cooking oil.

Lalonde says client numbers are increasing, and the percentage of new families reaching out to the Kanata Food Cupboard for help each month is "startlingly increasing" as costs for food, gasoline and household essentials increase.

"They're doing the same as you; they're going to grocery stores, they're looking for the items that are on sale or that they can price match and, unfortunately, that's just not available for them," said Lalonde during an interview with Newstalk 580 CFRA's Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron on Friday.

"And if they can afford their food, the cost of everything else in their household is going up as well so there's not a leeway for them to really make ends meat."

Lalonde says families also report a lack of winter jackets and boots, as temperatures dip into the -20C range this month.

"The number of families reaching out for assistance with winter basics this year has been astronomical," said Lalonde.

The Kanata Food Cupboard is open for client pickups and deliveries five days a week.

To donate, visit the Kanata Food Cupboard website.