Pauline Cripps says that even with a 30 per cent increase in visits, the GFB still won’t turn anyone away
The Guelph Food Bank is an important part of the community; now more so than ever, says Pauline Cripps, coordinator at the GFB.
The food bank saw a rise of 30 per cent in visits from 2015-2016, with 26,896 visits growing to 35,160.
A growing need
The GFB runs two food programs, the Hamper program and the Excess program.
The 30 per cent increase accounts for both of these programs, meaning regular clients could be relying on the food bank more often, or new clients could be using their services.
Hamper visits are limited to once or twice a month per client, and provide 2-3 weeks of food.
“Whatever you or I were to go to a grocery store to buy for ourselves, that’s what is in the hamper,” said Cripps.
The program is especially important for individuals with dietary restrictions or nutritional needs, like allergies, lactose intolerance or celiac disease.
‘We’ve never had to turn anyone away.’– Pauline Cripps, Guelph Food Bank
The excess program is unlimited to users, and offers clients access to all extra donations and perishable items. Cripps said many clients use this to extend the life of their hamper food, or cross things off their grocery list.
“It’s one less thing that they’re going to have to buy,” said Cripps.
The rise of the ‘working poor’
Serving 85-110 families a day on average is no small feat, and the Food Bank has adapted to a growing need in the community.
The GFB naturally started offering its bi-weekly hamper services based on need, and as demand has increased Cripps says the community support has risen to match it.
“We’ve never had a need that we haven’t really been able to meet,” she said. “We’ve never had to turn anyone away.”
But Cripps has noticed a rise in the ‘working poor’ in the city, people who have full time jobs but are still using the food bank’s services to make ends meet.
“There’s no clear definable way of saying exactly why, but from what I’ve seen I think it has to do with the cost of living in Guelph,” she said.
“It’s funny because Guelph has one of the lowest unemployment rates, and yet we still see so many people coming through the door who can’t afford to keep food on their tables.”
It’s something that has risen across the board, and Cripps said all demographics who use the food bank have increased.
“We’re a lot busier than we were before,” she said, and even though the numbers from 2016-17 aren’t counted yet, she’s expecting more.
“I’m hoping it’s not as big of an increase, but I can see there being at least a little bit of growth.”