It was busier than ever during the lunch hour at the Mustard Seed Food Bank on Friday.
A volunteer asked a client a few questions before filling out his lunch bag. The crew hands out bags of food as they chat with their clients through the glass due to COVID-19.
There are fewer volunteers working these days, but their workload is increasing. The food bank is handing out more lunches every day.
Every week the COVID-19 pandemic continues, they are feeding more people, according to Duncan Chalmers, a grant writer with the Mustard Seed Church.
“We’ve been seeing quite an increase in need, just based on people getting laid off work, the increase in EI claims, and people struggling to make ends meet,” Chalmers said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced funding Friday to meet the urgent food needs of Canadians struggling to put food on the table.
“The government will provide 100 million dollars to meet the urgent food needs of vulnerable Canadians including those living in Indigenous and northern communities,” Trudeau said.
With more relying on the Mustard Seed and other food banks, there is relief following today’s announcement.
“We’re incredibly grateful the government has set aside those funds towards a good cause in this time of uncertainty. It’ll help us meet the capacity of that growing need,” Chalmers said.
A total of $50 million of the funding will go to Food Banks Canada, a national non-profit. A total of $20 million will be split between four organizations, including the Salvation Army. And $30 million will go local food banks, such as the Mustard Seed.
Patricia Mamic, the public and government affairs director for the Salvation Army in Greater Victoria, said they are also seeing a dramatic increase in demand and do not expect that to slow down.
“We need to be prepared for an ongoing experience with people coming to our doors. We’re finding that there are more people who maybe haven’t visited us before. And so we don’t know how this will be,” Mamic said.