There is a rising number of people in Brandon who need the services of organizations like Samaritan House and Helping Hands just to get enough to eat as their budgets tighten.
But as bad as the situation is for some of these folks, the situation could grow even worse a year down the road.
As the Sun wrote yesterday, the Samaritan House food bank serves about 1,200 households every month — a significant jump from a decade ago when that number was 750. Around the corner at the soup kitchen, between 160 and 200 people are fed on a daily basis from Monday to Friday.
And with demand on the increase, these two organizations are struggling to keep up and they’re asking for some help from the public.
“We’re short of all food products,” Helping Hands chair Jim Hillis told the Sun. “We’re always looking for donations … really looking for meat products now.”
The threat of a food shortage at Helping Hands greatly concerned folks like Sheila Oertel, who relies on the soup kitchen two or three times per week. With basic budget items like food and rent going up, she says it’s hard to get by.
“I’m concerned about a lot of people, plus myself … But especially kids and single parents,” Oertel said.
Samaritan House too finds itself short of food — general manager Marla Sommersall says they’re running low “on everything.” That includes vegetables, protein items and pasta. Sommersall says the organization is almost out of the major food-drive items that usually last until mid-September.
As we often do, we urge Brandonites to open their hearts and wallets and drop off a few donations of food or cash at either of these organizations, so our fellow citizens who are having trouble making ends meet don’t have to go hungry.
Unfortunately, there may be a more difficult problem on the horizon as the worst drought in half a century in the United States has sent the price of corn and soybeans soaring to record highs and as the Globe and Mail reported, put upward pressure on wheat.
The U.S. government says 88 per cent of the corn crop this year is now affected by the drought and 77 per cent of the soybeans crop, used in animal feed and some dairy alternatives, is affected, according to a New York Times report.
The same report suggests that we will begin to see a rise in food prices starting with poultry later this year. Chicken and turkey prices could rise 3.5 to 4.5 per cent later this year.
And yesterday, The Associated Press said that in 2013 as a result of the drought, the USDA is looking at “above-normal food price inflation,” although prices for fruits and vegetables were expected to remain stable.
As a lot of food prices are determined by the North American market, no doubt some of these higher prices will spill over into Canada.
And that could further squeeze the budgets of Brandonites and other Manitobans who are already on the margins.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 26, 2012