Food banks in Hamilton, Ontario. are sounding the alarm and seeking investment from the city to offset a significant drop in food donations.
The Emergency Food Strategic Planning Committee, which represents a collective of 16 hunger-relief programs, submitted a request for $1.25 million in annual funding to purchase food in bulk to ensure they can continue to meet demand.
Hamilton Food Share’s Karen Randell says agencies didn’t take the decision to seek help from the city “lightly,” insisting they are “very close” to not being able to keep the doors open to everyone.
“We were bringing in a little over 300,000 pounds of food before the pandemic through community food drives, and last year that number was only 83,000,” Randell told councilors at a committee meeting. emergency and community services Thursday.
Jamie Vanderberg of the Welcome Inn Community Center says that over the past year, the city’s food banks have welcomed a total of 33,000 visitors each month, a year-over-year increase of about 40 to percent, while donations fell by 60 to 80 percent.
“For example, the Welcome Inn food bank was visited 11,000 times before the pandemic; last year we had 24,353 visits to our food bank,” he revealed.
He says what’s surprising is the increase in senior visits, which jumped 24 percent in March to just under 2,000 visits that month.
Due to a lack of donations, Food Share purchases have increased 624% over the past four years, from $193,326 in 2019 to $1.4 million in 2023.
Half of the $1.25 million requested from the city would be set aside to purchase food, with the other portion covering staffing and infrastructure costs through grants.
Councilors asked staff to report back in October with options to meet the emergency funding request.
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