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Donations increasingly crucial for N.L.’s food banks, which are seeing more children who need help | CBC News


A shelf full of cans with a woman stocking a box
Food bank usage has been on the rise in Newfoundland and Labrador, with more families and young people availing of them. (Malone Mullin/CBC)

Bridges to Hope executive director Jody Williams says increased demand at his St. John’s food bank can take on many forms.

And as of this week, he says, the food bank’s largest client demographic is children.

“We’re seeing over 300 children a month,” Williams said Thursday.

“Children are being affected the most because their family, their parents are working, but they can’t make ends meet. And now they’re relying on the food bank.… These kids, they don’t have food. So, you know, are they eating? We don’t really know.”

Children’s food bank usage is the subject of a new study published Monday by the Canadian Medical Association, which found that children and teenagers in food-insecure homes were 74 per cent more likely to end up in hospital with mental health issues than their peers with reliable access to food.

A man wearing a vest and a hat stands outside a St. John's food bank.
Jody Williams, manager of St. John’s food bank Bridges to Hope, says they are serving more than 300 children per month. (CBC)

Williams said more younger people are also coming through the food bank, including those with full-time jobs. The food bank opened its doors Wednesday evenings for the first time last year to cater to those who work during the day.

A few years ago, he said, he would have considered serving 30 people a busy day.

“Now it’s nothing for us to do 100 people in a day,” he said.

Williams says food banks are also dealing with the rising cost of goods — adding Bridges to Hope has already doubled its projected food budget for the year.

Donation of fish helps families access traditional meals

Outside monetary donations, food banks like Bridges to Hope rely on donations of food to keep their shelves full.

Share the Harvest, a Newfoundland and Labrador group that collects and donates country food like game meat, berries and more to food banks, made a donation of 15 bags of freshly caught cod to the food bank at the Single Parent Association of Newfoundland and Labrador on Monday.

“Country food is in great demand. It’s nutritious and everything else,” Share the Harvest director Barry Fordham said this week.

“It will provide a healthy, balanced meal. And it also will take some of the folks who obtain this food, take them back to their childhood because this is what they grew up on.”

WATCH | Fresh cod is delivered to the food bank at the Single Parent Association of Newofoundland and Labrador:

Cod donated to St. John’s food bank brings country meat to more local tables

Sharing the Harvest donated bags of freshly caught cod fish to the food bank at the Single Parent Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, which will help families get access to fresh proteins and traditional meals.

This week’s cod donation is vital to the food bank, said Abbey French, the Single Parent Association head of employment services. Donations of proteins and fruits often aren’t thought about in place of traditional non-perishable items, she said.

It also comes at a time when the need for food bank services is higher than ever, she said.

“There’s constantly families coming to the door. Our food bank schedule is always full, so it truly is growing by the day,” she said.

“As prices are going up, the need is higher.… [Demand] is always growing, and we say we’re really in need of anything anyone is willing to donate as far as food goes.”

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


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