Rising food costs a ‘triple whammy’ for Harvest Manitoba

Harvest Manitoba says an expected surge in food costs in the coming months will hit the food bank hard just as it’s needed the most.

A food price survey released last week shows costs are expected to surge as much as seven per cent in 2022, adding nearly $1,000 a year to the grocery bill of the average family of four.

Read more: Canadians are about to face more sticker shock at the grocery store

Harvest Manitoba president and CEO Vince Barletta says that means the food bank is bracing for a jump in clientele as well as looking for ways to manage the escalating costs.

He says Harvest has already seen a 75 per cent increase in new hamper sign-ups in the last few months.

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There are currently 85,000 people who rely on the food bank every month, he told 680 CJOB Monday.

“Those are record numbers that we haven’t seen since the beginning of the pandemic,” he said.

“We’re anticipating … those numbers are going to continue to increase in the months ahead.”

Read more: Why Canada’s food inflation may get worse before it gets better

The 12th edition of Canada’s Food Price Report released Thursday predicts the average Canadian family of four will pay an extra $966 for food in 2022, for a total annual grocery bill of $14,767.

It’s the biggest jump ever predicted by the annual food price report.

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Barletta said Harvest has already seen a rise in food costs in recent months due to the pandemic and shipping disruptions.

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He says Harvest has been able to meet the need with current levels of donations and volunteers, but there’s worry that donations may dry up as the cost of living goes up for everyone.

“It’s not just those on the bottom rung that gets pinched, it’s everyone that gets pinched when food prices goes up,” he said.

Read more: Why everything you want is out of stock or more expensive

“For the average family, there may be less ability to put that tin in the bin for Harvest.

“We’re looking at a triple whammy of need.”

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–with files from The Canadian Press

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