The Friends in Need Food Bank has received 240 emergency food boxes. (Contributed)

More families accessing Maple Ridge food bank

Loss of CERB next month expected to hit more households: Robson

The Friends in Need food bank has already seen an uptick in families accessing their services, and is expecting more demand when the Canada Emergency Recovery Benefit (CERB) expires next month.

Executive director Mary Robson said the clientele of single young adults using the food bank has actually decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We attribute that to the CERB,” she said.

READ ALSO: ‘People should be aware these are taxable benefits’: Tax-planning for CERB

However, she said more families have been accessing the food bank in recent months.

“Kids were being fed at school,” said Robson. “We’re picking them up through the summer, and we do see registrations of people who we haven’t seen before.”

She estimated about 10 per cent more families of three or four are going to the food bank, but has yet to see the most recent data.

READ ALSO: Surrey councillor asks if CERB playing a role in drug overdoses

The federal government announced Thursday that CERB will be extended another four weeks until Sept. 27. Then people who are still out of work will transition to employment insurance (EI).

At that time, Robson expects the food bank to see increased demand, and her staff is preparing by stocking the shelves.

They have received 240 pre-packed emergency food boxes, weighing eight kilograms each, from Food Banks Canada, Rogers Canada and the Jays Care Foundation. It was intended to help families impacted by the pandemic.

With the pandemic also disrupting food drives, Robson said the large influx was needed to keep the food bank well stocked.

She said the perishable food recovery program, which takes perishables from grocery stores diverted to the food bank, “has been a Godsend.”

More than half of that food goes for human consumption, 38 per cent for animal feed, and the balance becomes compost. It has been expanded with No Frills now participating, and more grocery stores coming on stream soon.

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