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New reports highlight rising food prices in B.C.

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It’s more proof that the rising cost of groceries has begun to crush the finances of families.

A series of reports show that food banks are expecting another increase in demand this year. The rate of child poverty has increased and shoppers are no longer loyal to their regular food markets. This in an attempt by shoppers to make ends meet.

“I shop around, whoever has the best deals, that’s the grocery store that I go to,” said Kimmie Iyer.

Iyer is not alone. Researchers at Dalhousie University have found that nearly two thirds of Canadians have done away with loyalty, swapping grocery stores in search of better deals.

“Which is actually quite substantial because grocery shopping is something that is driven by habits,” said Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University.

It appears the majority of Canadians are now breaking those habits under ever-increasing food prices.

“We are seeing increased demand day over day, week over week,” said Treska Watson, director of operations for the Mustard Seed Food Bank in Victoria.

Watson says that demand shows no signs of slowing down. According to the Yearly Hunger Count Survey, food bank use across the country is up 78.5 per cent since 2019.

“We have never ever seen this steep of an increase,” said Watson.

In a new report conducted by Second Harvest, Canada’s largest food rescue organization, food banks will need to brace themselves for an 18-per-cent increase in demand this year.

That translates to more than 1 million people throughout the country needing to turn to a food bank this year to get by.

“One of the most troubling demographics that we’ve seen is use is up with double income families,” said Watson. “What that means is single parents are in an even tougher situation.”

At the Victoria Single Parent Resource Centre, that assumption is confirmed.

“We found that single parents were experiencing food shortages,” said Melissa Masse, executive director of the Victoria Single Parent Resource Centre.

That organization runs a weekly member market day, giving away free groceries.

“Since December I’ve had 500 families come through our market and with the 500 families, we’ve seen 800 children being fed,” said Masse.

The 2023 BC Child Poverty Report Card shows that one in seven children in B.C. is now living in poverty.

Overall, the child poverty rate is 14.3 per cent. It jumps to 31 per cent for kids living on reserve and more than 40 per cent for children in single-parent households.

“Which is a sad state to be in, especially knowing that one in five Canadian children come from a single-parent home,” said Masse.

It’s not just food prices putting immense pressures on families. Interest rates and rising rents are key factors that are causing many to have to choose between food or shelter.

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