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Okanagan residents line up at the soup kitchen, not the grocery store, as food costs climb

The kitchen at the Upper Room Mission currently serves about 350 meals a day.
February 16, 2016 - 8:00 PM

OKANAGAN - Rising food costs are proving tough to swallow for many Okanagan residents.

Higher prices at the grocery store are forcing more people to seek assistance at places like the Upper Room Mission, a soup kitchen in Vernon. Spokesperson Lisa Anderson says they are averaging about 350 meals a day, up from roughly 250 to 300 meals daily at the same time last year.

“It’s skyrocketed,” Anderson says. “Our food line-up is so long, people are waiting. Today I had a family with a baby and we were trying to make room for them at the tables.”

The price of fresh produce spiked just after Christmas when a drought in California was compounded by a low Canadian dollar, causing the cost of imports to balloon.

The surging costs have led to more seniors and the working poor joining the line-up at the Upper Room Mission than ever before, Anderson says.

“Usually at the end of the month we always see the increases, people are waiting for paycheques and groceries are so expensive that people have nowhere else to go,” she says.

Rising food costs affect everyone, including the soup kitchen itself. The Mission relies on both food and cash donations from the public, and is fortunate to have good partnerships with local grocery stores, but still feels the effects of higher prices.

“When we do have to go out and purchase, we definitely see the difference,” Anderson says.

Surging grocery store bills are having an affect across the Okanagan, with plant nurseries noticing an upswing in the home gardening movement as a way for people to save their pocketbooks.

Meanwhile, a local university professor says while high food prices are unpalatable to consumers, they could be a boon for local producers. University of British Columbia Okanagan economics professor Dr. John Janmaat says Canadian food producers, including those right here in the Okanagan, will be encouraged to produce more.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
InfoTel News Ltd

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