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Saskatoon free food programs jeopardized by inflation

“Now our numbers have increased. Really increased,” said Sandra Kary, Executive Director of the Friendship Inn told CTV News. “Now our numbers have increased. Really increased,” said Sandra Kary, Executive Director of the Friendship Inn told CTV News.

With rising inflation across the country programs that provide free food in Saskatoon are contending with unprecedented need.

At the Friendship Inn they’re used to serving breakfast and lunch to a thousand people a day.

Lately, it’s even more.

“Now our numbers have increased. Really increased,” said Sandra Kary, Executive Director of the Friendship Inn told CTV News. 

They’re seeing about five hundred more people each day, which they attribute to a variety of factors.

“Housing security or income security,” Kary said. “If you’re trying to pay bills and stabilize housing, food is the first thing that you’re going to try and adapt with so that’s why we get more people.”

The reality that fundraising support may dry up because of the state of the economy weighs heavily on their minds.

“Hey, we still need help. We still need support and maybe we have to have a broader reach to more donors to actually meet our targets if in fact those donors have to tighten those belts too,” she says.

There’s a similar situation at The Saskatoon Foodbank and Learning Centre.  This is not the usual time of year when they have a donation drive, but this year the need is so great. 

 “The price of gas; the price of food is hitting people hard, and we’re no exception here and we’re seeing the impact” said Deborah Hamp, Director of Operations at the Food Bank and Learning Centre. 

“We’re seeing over 20,000 people a month,” she said. “The need is really urgent. People are really struggling and it’s really difficult to keep up with the demand,” she said.Hamp has seen many changes over her 12 years with the Food Bank, but this year is different. 

“The impact of inflation is really concerning,” she said. 

Last year they saw about 13,000 people coming in each month.

This year that has jumped.

“We’re seeing over 20,000 people a month,” she said. “The need is really urgent. People are really struggling and it’s really difficult to keep up with the demand,” she said. 

The good harvest helped with fresh produce donations this year, says Hamp, but they are uncertain if it will be enough.

“The sheer number, the sheer volume that makes it really difficult to keep up with the demand on a daily basis.”

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