Okanagan food bank anticipates increase in use when CERB ends - InfoNews

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Okanagan food bank anticipates increase in use when CERB ends

Lake Country Food Bank File Photo
Image Credit: Facebook
September 08, 2020 - 6:30 PM

An Okanagan food bank is anticipating a 10 per cent spike in use as those classified as the working poor come back to use its services once the Canada Emergency Response Benefit ends.

The Lake Country Food Bank is currently serving roughly 500 regular clients a month, said manager Joy Haxton.

“The clientele (will change as) soon as CERB ends, our working poor will be coming back,” she said. “Those who are pulling CERB at the moment are not coming to see us.”

Those using CERB can receive up to $500 per week for a maximum of 24 weeks.

READ MORE: Okanagan food banks serving never-before-seen clients during pandemic including hospitality workers

The federal government benefit is available from March 15 to Oct. 3, according to the Government of Canada

Haxton gave an example of one of the food bank’s clients, who was kicked out of their home without an official rental contract and now has nowhere to turn.

“There’s a lot of stories like that, where rent is the issue, housing is the issue,” she said, adding it depends on how stable their housing is and how stable their income is, she said.

Haxton said they’ve been calling clients who normally come in to use the food bank, and said the response has been that they’re using CERB.

Western Family recently donated $2,000 in gift cards to the food bank, which Haxton said they can go through in a day. The food bank is now in partnership with the Lake Country IGA to take excess food.

“That is a great help because right now we’re trying to set up families with kids going back to school,” Haxton said.

People’s eating habits change with the season and more people will be requesting items like soup, she said.

The biggest challenge for the food bank has been the reduction of volunteers due to social distancing measures during COVID-19, she said. The number of volunteers has been reduced to 21 from 65 and one of the biggest issues has been staffing to sort the food during the pandemic.

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