The cost of food is rising in Canada and the head of the Friends in Need Food Bank in Maple Ridge expects to see more people needing donations.
Mary Robson, executive director of the food bank that serves Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, was aware of a new university report predicting food costs will increase by nearly $500 for Canadian families in 2020.
According to a joint study by Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph, a family of four will pay $12,667 for food, which is a $487 increase.
Meat will be the biggest riser, up an estimated four to six per cent.
“We are going to see an increase,” Robson said. “It’s not just the cost of food going up, its the whole rising cost of living.”
She said the food bank does a means test to see whether people qualify for regular assistance. The threshold increased last year, and will again in 2020.
“We will be raising that bar to allow more families to qualify.”
Robson said the food bank is seeing a continuing increase in demand.
The food bank added seniors outreach in November, with food banks now offered at the Maple Ridge Seniors Activity Centre on Mondays from 10 a.m. to noon.
They are becoming increasingly popular, and seniors particularly benefit from the fresh produce in the perishable food recovery program.
“They are having such a hard time making ends meet at the end of the month,” Robson said of seniors.
The number of registered food-bank clients has held steady at just over 700 households over the past year, said Robson.
However, there are a growing number of organizations providing food for those in need, either by providing community meals or through programs by groups including the Kiwanis, Rotary and Youth Unlimited.
In addition to feeding the families registered with their organization, the food bank also helps some of these programs access their donated food.
Robson noted thousands of pounds of donated food are diverted to farms for livestock, because they are past their expiry date, and asked people to “check the date before you donate.”
• The CP Holiday Train is a key food bank fundraiser and stops at Port Haney Station in Maple Ridge on Monday, Dec. 16 at 7:50 p.m., then moves down the tracks to Pitt Meadows for 8:55 p.m.