VICTORIA -- Outside Victoria’s Mustard Seed Food Bank there is a steady line of people waiting for help to feed their families.

With more people out of work because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Queens Avenue food bank is seeing more people finding it difficult to make ends meet.

“They are either laid off from work or struggling to pay rent,” said Mustard Seed community and engagement and grants coordinator, Duncan Chalmers.

“We’re trying to provide them with hampers to the best that we can.”

Before the COVID-19 crisis, the region’s largest food bank would feed roughly 5000 people a month. Since the outbreak of the virus, the Mustard Seed has seen the numbers swell by as much as 15 per cent.

The increased demand for food is leaving many shelves empty.

“We’re seeing a lot of folks that would never usually come in to food banks, and with kids home from school its kind of tough to provide for a family,” said Chalmers. “We’re working seven days a week now to provide hampers and meals.”

Today in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an investment of $100 million to improve access to food for Canadians impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trudeau said, “This money will help ensure that organizations can buy and deliver food to those who need it the most.”

For Candace Adams, the announcement means she can continue to come to the food bank to help feed her family of four.

“We can have more food to feed our kids. I don’t have to find other resources like family, friends to help out,” said Adams.

“I am grateful they are here because I am limited in what I can but at the grocery store.”

Level Ground Trading, a Central Saanich coffee company, is also stepping up to help local food banks. For every 300-gram package of coffee purchased on its retail website, it will donate one package of coffee to food banks in the region.

“We’re hearing from food banks that there’s so much demand and so much need for their services,” said Level Ground spokesperson Stacey Toews.

“So many people are suddenly in situations they never though they would be in before. This is a great way to say, ‘Hey, everyone’s in this together,’” she said. “When food banks are doing all that they do, how do we jump in and be part of what they’re up to?”

Help from the community is what the Mustard Seed needs due to the increased demand for food support.

For staff and volunteers, finding new ways to bring in much needed food during the pandemic has been a challenge.

“Its been a bit of a strain given the circumstances, with the increased need and lots of folks coming in to receive food,” said Chalmers.

“We are asking folks in the community if you are able to collect a few cans and drop them off here downtown.”

The Mustard Seed is also asking for cash donations thought its website. Due to partnerships with local grocery stores, the food bank can buy more food at a time when it is needed most.

You can find the Mustard Seed website here

If you want to take advantage of the Level Ground campaign to help food banks, visit their website here