Rising protein prices forces Our Place to get creative with food menus

Rising protein prices forces Our Place to get creative with food menus

Protein prices are on the rise in Canada, forcing Vancouver Island community organizations like Our Place to meal plan better and ask for help with ingredient costs.

The cost of fresh and frozen beef increased 5.5 per cent from April 2022-23, according to Statistics Canada.

Chicken prices went up 10.4 per cent in the same time frame, while pork costs increased 2.5 per cent.

One food policy expert told CHEK News that the costs have continued to rise since.

“Beef is on the rise,” said Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University. “I think we are up about five per cent since last month.”

While some of this cost is due to inflation, Charlebois said a few other factors are at play.

He explained the avian flu played a big role in chicken costs and that a drought in the U.S.A. is affecting beef prices.

“A lot of ranchers decided to get rid of their inventory very early, so there’s just no supply, which is why futures are so way up right now,” Charlebois added.

This price increase is causing stress for the kitchen at Our Place in Victoria.

Steven Seltzer, manager of Special Events and Corporate Giving, said protein is a huge part of what they serve patrons daily, meaning their food spending is rapidly increasing.

“We’re about to spend between $150,000 to $174,000 this year just to be able to purchase protein to make nutritious meals,” Seltzer said.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Our Place has been serving about 1,200 meals daily to a wide variety of people.

“The people who come for meals aren’t just people who are homeless,” Seltzer explained. “We have so many seniors who actually come for community, we have so many working poor that are off to work but can’t afford decent meals, so they are coming to us to start the day or finish the day.”

While Seltzer couldn’t confirm how much the protein increases would affect the organization’s bottom line, he did say Our Place is getting more creative with its menus and starting to plan meals a few weeks in advance.

“We are working with the sales reps from the food suppliers to find alternatives for what we might have ordered before to still provide that nutrition,” Seltzer said.

Charlebois said protein prices are expected to continue to rise in the months ahead.

Our Place is asking residents who can help to make cash donations to help offset food costs or participate in fundraising events.

The organization’s annual Hungry Hearts gala is returning this year, with all the money raised going toward service costs.

Our Place said it would add a protein draw to this year’s chef competition to bring light to the rising costs.

Gala tickets are available at www.hibid.ca or by calling 250-940-5064.

Mackenzie ReadMackenzie Read

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