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Food bank in good health, but continued support needed through the holidays

Childrens gifts and cash donations are most needed items

While food banks nationwide struggle with soaring demand, Kitimat’s food bank remains resilient as it enters the Christmas season. Shelves are well-stocked and expectations are high for a series of upcoming food drives and other charitable events. However, the food bank’s president, Marjorie Phelps, stressed the need for continual support.

Across the country, food bank usage has surged 32 per cent since last year, and 79 per cent since 2019, according to a Food Banks Canada report. In Kitimat the number has climbed in the past month from 147 users to 177, which can serve to signal future uncertainty.

Phelps emphasized cash donations and gift items for kids aged 10 and up as the most pressing needs during the holidays.

“The only thing we really need is toys for kids, gift cards or suitable gifts for teenagers.”

But the best donation of all is cash. It doesn’t rot on the shelf and it allows for contingencies in lean times. “Money is the best thing to donate, because we can do so much more with money than the average person going to the store and buying stuff for us. We watch for sales, and the stores are really good about letting us order in bulk,” Phelps said.

“You can’t even buy a roast for $25 anymore. Somebody told me they went to buy a turkey and it was $75.”

In early October NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach urged the government to adopt New Democrats’ proposal to bring down food prices for families across the country. Singh introduced the Lowering Price for Canadians Act, legislation that gives the Competition Bureau more power to increase competition and lower prices, increase fines for price-fixing and price-gouging, and close loopholes that let big grocery chains price out the competition.

“It’s absurd to think the Liberals’ plan of politely asking companies to reduce costs is going to work,” Bachrach said.