Home Blog February 2016 Sharply rising food prices are hurting us all

Sharply rising food prices are hurting us all

Sharply rising food prices are hurting us all

If you do the grocery shopping for your family, you’ve felt firsthand the effects of increasing food prices. 

Last year alone, food prices rose by more than 4%, well above the inflation rate, and the price of imported fresh produce rose much, much higher. And there’s no letup in sight: the cost of food is expected to rise another 2-4% this year.

Our lower loonie means the average household is paying hundreds of extra dollars just to put the same food on their table as last year.

Lowest incomes, hardest hit

For families and individuals trying to survive on a limited budget, price increases often result, not in a higher grocery store bill, but in fewer nutrient-dense foods like fresh fruit and veggies, meat and fish.

Already, the food banks across our network are seeing an impact. Many are telling us that over the past few months they’ve seen more first time visitors and more repeat visits from families who are struggling.

And while need is rising, it can be more difficult for the public to donate, because people everywhere are feeling the effects of higher prices.

Fighting food hikes

Food banks are coping by employing strategies that help them save money on food purchases without compromising quality — strategies that you can adopt too:

Switching to lower-cost proteins. A 2016 study by The Food Institute of the University of Guelph showed that 37.9% of Canadians have reduced or stopped eating beef in the past 12 months, largely for financial reasons (62.1%). Eating eggs, tofu, and pulses such as beans and lentils in place of meat provides meals rich in protein and other nutrients, at a fraction of the cost. (This is the International Year of Pulses — a great time to discover delicious recipes from around the world and right here in Canada.)

Choosing produce in season. These are usually less expensive, more plentiful and better quality than foods that are out of season. Find out what’s freshest now. Frozen fruit and vegetables are also a great choice in winter because they are preserved at the peak of freshness.

Shopping at farmers markets. Canadian-produced foods can be less expensive because they are less susceptible to the effects of a low loonie. Local-grown can also mean lower transportation costs because of lower gas prices and fewer miles to market.

Growing your own. Come spring, food bank–supported community gardens and private gardens will be sprouting to life under the care of gardeners keen to reduce reliance on store-bought by growing their own veggies.

Your donation is essential

Lower income families are hurt the most by steeply rising food prices, and food banks need your contribution more than ever.

You may be coping with the price increases by changing the items in your shopping basket. Or you may be cooking at home more and eating out less.

Whatever your money-saving strategy, if donating to your local food bank is something you already do, we urge you not to cut back on giving — even if it means sacrificing an item or two from your own shopping cart. And if you don’t usually give to your food bank, consider starting now. Our corporate sponsors and food drive participants have ramped up their donations in the face of greater need. But your community desperately needs your help too. 

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of food distributed by Canadian food banks is fresh (eg. milk, eggs, fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, bread)