As the cost of living quickly outpaces people’s incomes, food banks in Duncan and Ladysmith are seeing unprecedented demand.
Henry Wikkerink, the manager of the Cowichan Valley Basket Society, says many of the locals accessing the food bank have never needed help before.
“Over the last year, we’ve just seen a 100 per cent increase in our need. The hampers that we do, we serve seniors, families,” said Wikkerink.
One of those newcomers includes John Adair, who as a hard worker and homeowner, never expected to be relying on the food bank at 57 years old, but after suffering an injury on the job, and struggling with the rising costs of living, the Youbou man has become one of the hundreds of new faces turning to the food bank over the last year to get by.
“I worked my whole life,” Adair told CHEK News on Tuesday. “Well yeah, no one wants to be here right.”
“It’s my survival. It means I get to eat.”
Nick Proctor, a regular client of the Cowichan Valley Basket Society, says incomes aren’t keeping up, leading to the food bank use.
“The cost of living has taken off so quickly compared to people’s income that it’s outrunning it, and people cannot keep up anymore,” Proctor said.
Wikkerink said the non-profit gave away $85,000 worth of food in January alone, through their hamper program and lunch service that averages 220 meals each day in their Duncan dining room.
“What it means to me is someone respects them, that someone loves them enough to make them a good meal,” said Kim Lundquist, chef at the Cowichan Valley Basket Society.
The small town of Ladysmith is seeing the food bank need grow quickly there too.
“Our numbers have tripled in the nearly two years that I’ve worked here,” said Eliina Alle, coordinator of the Ladysmith Food Bank.
Small centre food banks expect numbers to keep rising as rents, interest rates and food prices remain high. So they are urging people to donate where they can to help others get by.