London Meals Financial institution launches Autumn 2022 meals marketing campaign amid unprecedented demand – London

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As the London Food Bank marks the return of its annual autumn food drive, food bank officials are sounding the alarm over unprecedented demand from the community, including a surge in people new to the food bank.

The 34th annual Thanksgiving meal drive, which begins September 30 and runs through October 10, comes as residents across the country grapple with rising inflation and higher housing, food and fuel costs at relatively low wages.

So far, 23,157 distinct individuals, or 9,271 households, have used the Tafel’s services at least once this year, up 41 percent from the same period last year, agency figures show. 39% of private customers are minors.

In addition, nearly 2,800 families are new arrivals, up from 18 percent last year, about 28 percent of all households helped by the Tafel this year.

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“We have been around for 36 years. Three of our busiest months in our history happened in the last four months,” Jane Roy, the food bank’s co-executive director, said Thursday.

“We now see over 4,000 families monthly. It was so difficult. And if you then look at the number of people who have never been with us, it has doubled in the past year.”

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Last month, the country’s annual inflation rate slowed to 7.0 percent, buoyed by a fall in gasoline prices; However, food costs continued to rise.

In its monthly consumer price index report last week, Statistics Canada said food prices rose in August at their highest rate since 1981, with prices rising 10.8 percent year-on-year. The federal agency attributes the acceleration in food prices to ongoing supply chain disruptions, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, extreme weather and higher input costs.

While food prices rose nearly 11 percent, average hourly wages rose 5.4 percent in August, according to Statistics Canada.

“Food banks were born in recessions in the 1980s. We’ve had five or six recessions since then, so you know about them and how to prepare. This is like the first recession. We have no idea what’s in store for us,” said Glen Pearson, co-executive director of the food bank.

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“We have people who used to donate to us who are now coming for help, but they are working.”

With so many Londoners feeling the pinch of the financial crisis, it is understandably harder, if not impossible, for those who may have contributed to previous food drives to do so now.

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“What do you do as a table? Sit there and start the pump and plug it in? Of course not,’ said Pearson.

“If you have an abundance, give more than you have given in other years… but if you don’t have it, don’t give it. As a food bank, we don’t want to see your family suffer so you can help other families.”

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According to Roy, the food bank is not setting a specific goal for this year’s fall campaign, noting that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 campaign has focused more on financial contributions than physical donations.

This year’s campaign is a return to more traditional action as seen before COVID-19. With food costs soaring, food banks are finding that the cash donations they receive aren’t going to go as far as they used to.

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During last year’s fall campaign, each $2.60 donation was equivalent to a pound of food, according to Food Banks Canada. Now that pound of food costs $3.21, says Roy.

The impact of this change can be seen by looking at the cash donation balance from last year’s fall campaign – $108,701. Previously, the food would have meant about £41,800 worth. Today it would equate to just under £33,900.

“We know that money doesn’t go that far. Whatever happens, it’s going to be great. We know the public will give what they can,” Roy said.

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The drive doesn’t just help those who turn to the board for help. About 70 percent of the pounds raised goes to the more than two dozen local organizations that the Tafel supports.

In addition, the food bank is the main funder of the Harvest Bucks scheme run by the Middlesex-London Health Unit, which distributes vouchers to the community to buy fresh produce from participating organizations including Covent Garden Market.

Officials are asking donors to contribute non-perishable items with a focus on healthier options, such as canned fruits and vegetables with no added sugar or salt and low-salt pasta sauce; protein, such as peanut butter, canned or dried beans, and canned salmon or tuna; and grains, including low-sugar cereals, oatmeal, potted barley, whole wheat pasta, or brown rice.

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“The only item that is becoming more and more popular… children’s snacks for schools. That tends to be expensive. Whatever’s on offer, stretch your dollar, we can use it,” Roy said.

Other items needed include baby formula, baby formula, powdered milk and pablum, the food bank says, along with non-food items like toiletries.

Roy asks donors not to bring old or expired groceries and homemade items.

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Non-perishable donations can be dropped off at grocery stores in Greater London, at any of the 14 fire stations in London and at the Food Bank warehouse at 926 Leathorne Street.

Fresh food donations should be brought directly to the table.

Monetary donations and donations to the Harvest Bucks program can be made through the food bank’s website.

– with files by Andrew Graham and The Canadian Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.