Saskatoon meals financial institution continues seeing excessive demand as winter units in

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Rotary Club’s $15,000 donation helps charity shore up supplies as more people —particularly children— seek help.

Saskatoon Food Bank executive director Laurie O’Connor, left, and Art Postle, co-president of the Rotary Club, stand outside the food bank. The five rotary clubs in Saskatoon joined together to raise money for the Saskatoon Food Bank this Christmas, donating $15,000. Photo by Matt Smith /Saskatoon Star Phoenix

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Staff at the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Center face the same sticker shock as everyone else at the grocery stores these days.

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That’s why Brianne Davis said a $15,000 donation from the Rotary Clubs of Saskatoon on Friday is especially welcome.

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“We’re able to leverage our bulk purchasing power to help stretch donated dollars further. However, the same way that inflation and increasing prices are hitting people’s wallets, we’re also impacted by increasing food costs,” she said.

The funds are enough to provide about 10,000 liters of fresh milk for children and pregnant or nursing mothers, Davis noted.

A survey conducted in this case by the Canadian Hub for Applied and Social Research at the University of Saskatchewan found that nationally, 20 percent of people reported skipping meals altogether to save on food costs. Just over 30 per cent said they were eating less healthy foods because they’re cheaper.

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Nearly five per cent said they had stolen food out of necessity; that number was seven per cent on the prairies where people overall reported higher rates of resorting to emergency food strategies. About five per cent of Canadians said they used a food bank or community fridge, according to the survey, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Researchers have noted they believe the numbers of people reporting skipping, scrimping or stealing in response to food prices are likely lower than the reality, due to the difficulty of reaching people living on lower incomes.

Food Banks Canada reported there were nearly 1.5 million visits to Canadian food banks in March — 15 per cent more visits than in the same month last year and a 35 per cent jump since March 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

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In Saskatoon, Davis said the food bank is handing out hampers to support about 20,000 people each month. She said there’s also been an alarming rise in the number of children relying on the food bank for meals.

“This number is one we’ve watched grow quickly over the past few months and it’s especially worrying as approximately half of our clients are kids,” she added.

The Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Center has occupied its current building at 202 Avenue C South since 1990. The organization announced in June the purchase of a property on Avenue P South, alongside plans for a capital campaign to raise money to design and build a new one facility.

— with Canadian Press files

  1. Priscilla Johnstone is the executive director of the Saskatoon Housing Initiatives Partnership.

    Five things about Saskatoon’s 2022 homelessness count

  2. Laurie O'Connor is the executive director of the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre.

    Saskatoon food bank sees influx of clients after changes to social assistance

  3. Saskatchewan Polytechnic enrolled 2,450 students in basic education programs in the 2020-21 fiscal year.

    Saskatchewan replacing income program for adults finishing school

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