Want for Regina Meals Financial institution continues to extend as extra demographics expertise meals insecurity

The number of people using the Regina Food Bank continues to increase amid food insecurity in the city.

The food bank says it has seen a shift in the demographics looking to access its services.

“We saw an immediate spike at the outset of the pandemic, but as opposed to sort of receding back, it’s more like a step change, where it’s actually like this seems to be the new baseline,” said John Bailey, CEO of the Regina Food Bank.

On Wednesday, food bank officials told media the changing demographics are being driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation and an increase in the cost of living in Canada.

Regina Food Bank CEO John Bailey says the food bank has seen a steady increase in the number of people accessing its services. (Alexander Quon/CBC)

Bailey said one of the biggest groups of new food bank users is fully employed people who are just having trouble making ends meet due to inflation. Bailey also noted that staff are seeing double the number of newcomer Canadians — such as Ukrainian refugees — accessing the food bank compared to the same time last year.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for assistance form the Regina Food Bank ebbed and flowed throughout the year.

That has now changed. Bailey said the level of assistance required throughout the year now remains consistent and that he expects the food bank will continue to see growth in the number of people that need support.

The food bank has partnered with Mosaic to launch its million meals campaign in the face of the increased need.

The goal is to raise $350,000 to $400,000, or the equivalent of one million meals, during the next month. Those one million meals are a quarter of what the food bank will need throughout the year, Bailey said.

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Mosaic kickstarted the campaign by donating the equivalent of 150,000 meals.

“For us to be able to contribute and work within our own community to help a community partner like the Regina Food Bank, to ensure food security for our neighbours, is extremely important,” said YaYa Wang, the director for government and public affairs for Mosaic.

Officials with the food bank say 350 hampers filled with approximately 13,000 pounds of food are distributed around the city every single day.

Hampers are available to people every two weeks and provide roughly 70 per cent of the nutrition they would need in that period.

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