Demand at Island food bank and affordable food programs surges as inflation grows


A Nanaimo-based food bank is seeing a five-fold increase in demand as more families are feeling their budgets tighten due to rising prices.

Nanaimo mom Crystal Dahling felt like she won the lottery, holding a bulging bag of fresh produce, called the Good Food Box Thursday. Bagged by Nanaimo Foodshare each Thursday, Dahling and up to 600 others of all incomes pick it up to make ends meet, and feed their families healthy foods for ever-tightening budgets.

“Ten dollars yes. Which you can’t get this at any grocery store,” said Dahling, a Nanaimo resident.

“My rent’s gone up, gas has gone up, the cost of groceries. Everything and I feel like I make a pretty good wage and I almost feel like I’m on that level of poverty now,” she said.

“Food is so expensive and I’m actually not able to buy enough for my kids to eat healthy and for me as well so when we first started this. I got to eat oranges as well everyday, along with my kids,” said Sarah Hunter, a Nanaimo resident also collecting a Good Food Box Thursday.

According to Nanaimo Foodshare, demand for its good box has gone up from 400 bags per month to upwards of 2,000 now. A five-fold increase, as inflation skyrockets.

“There’s more and more every week lately of course, but it’s a community effort and it’s a community solution,” said Tabitha Tucker, the Good Food Box coordinator for Nanaimo Foodshare.

Meanwhile, Nanaimo’s Loaves and Fishes Foodbank has seen an 11 per cent increase in the number of children who are needing their services since 2019.

“There is an increase and people are coming for all sorts of reasons. But inflation is definitely one of them,” said Peter Sinclair, executive director of Nanaimo’s Loaves & Fishes.

“I don’t know what I’d do without this every week. I’d really be in trouble,” said Sharon Kowalchuk, a Nanaimo resident and client of Nanaimo Loaves & Fishes.

“There’s a lot of us that wouldn’t be eating properly without a food bank,” said Glen Waldick, a Nanaimo resident and client of Nanaimo Loaves & Fishes.

So the province launched one-time funding Thursday, called the Student and Family Affordability Fund to help make back-to-school for so many struggling to meet basic needs, let alone buy back-to-school supplies in this global inflation crisis.  Of the funding, $60 million will go to help school districts make sure students are fed and have the school supplies they need to return.

“The cost of transportation, kids going back to school, families are seeing such pressure right now,” said Tucker.

All while community programs help fill the fridges of those who make too much income to qualify, but who are still struggling to make ends meet.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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