More people used Kincardine’s food bank this year



By Barb McKay


Kincardine’s food bank was accessed more this year than the previous year.


Food bank co-ordinator Pat Stewart said there were more than 400 visits to the food bank by the end of November over the first 11 months of 2016. Of those, 70 were new clients.


“Our numbers are up quite a bit this year compared to last,” Stewart said. “In November 2016 we helped 2,353 people and in November 2017 we helped 2,758.”


She said last month the Kincardine food bank saw the highest number of visits ever – 143, with 14 of them being new clients.


That report came just as the Grey Bruce Health Unit (GBHU) released its most recent statistics on the cost of healthy eating in Grey Bruce. The results of a Nutritious Food Basket survey show that the average cost of feeding a family of four in this region is $220.40 per week or $882.00 per month ($10,584.00 per year).


“Twenty-one food banks, 18 Good Food Box sites, 72 Ontario Student Nutrition Programs and many other supports exist in Grey Bruce to combat food insecurity,” GBHU dietician Laura Needham said in a media release. “But, these programs only offer temporary assistance; they do not address the root cause of the issue, poverty.”


Last week, the Ontario government launched a three-year pilot project to test out the Basic Income Guarantee, aimed at ensuring that everyone has access to a minimum income level in order to afford basic necessities like food and shelter. Individuals between the ages of 18 and 64 who are working but earning below the basic income level can apply to take part in the project. Those who are eligible will receive monthly basic income payments for the three year period.


The GBHU’s statistics show that for individuals living in Grey Bruce who are struggling with limited income, after paying rent and buying food, there is little money left over for other expenses. For the average single person on Ontario Works, the monthly cost of food and rent is in excess of the income they receive and forces them to make difficult choses about how to spend their money. That leads to food insecurity.


In a statement last week, the board of health for the GBHU agreed that an “income response” is needed to effectively address the issue of food insecurity.


At the Kincardine food bank, Stewart said the community has been extremely generous this holiday season with monetary and food donations to ensure the shelves are stocked. There are items that are still needed, including large cans or cartons of juice (not juice boxes), cookies, canned fruit and personal hygiene items such as soap, shampoo and toothpaste.