THUNDER BAY — The Regional Food Distribution Association of Northwestern Ontario is sounding the alarm about diminishing quantities of food items.
"Our levels are low. We don't have a lot left on the shelves," said Brendan Carlin, manager of community services for the RFDA.
According to executive director Volker Kromm, this is the worst it's been at this time of year since he took on the job.
The Thunder Bay-based organization announced Monday that it is completely out of most of the 10 most-needed items that go into every hamper provided to clients of the numerous community food banks that it supports.
The RFDA has issued an appeal for donations of money and food, saying it's been hit hard by a perfect storm of rising costs, increasing demand and the fallout from the pandemic.
Generally, the various services it provides have seen a 10 per cent increase in demand over 2022, when there was already a significant increase from the previous year.
It's currently providing food for 9,000 people a month.
This isn't the first occasion on which the RFDA has found itself struggling to maintain its services, but Carlin said this time it's different.
"Usually we've made requests to other organizations and businesses in other parts of the province or country. And they're all reporting the same thing. All over the province there's a real shortage at food banks. We have an immediate need for food to get our shelves back up to where they need to be."
Local residents can help by donating money online or at the RFDA at 570 Syndicate Ave. S., and by dropping food off there or at one of the numerous dropboxes around the city.
The top 10 food items required include:
- canned fish or meat
- macaroni and cheese
- canned vegetables
- canned fruit
- pork and beans
- peanut butter
- pasta sauce
- canned soup
Carlin described the situation in the RFDA warehouse as "dire" because the supports the organization typically relies on are not as robust as they were in the past.
"We can continue serving, but our hampers won't be as good as they have been, so people won't be eating as well. We can't get reinforcements as easily as we could before."
He noted that inflation is also hurting RFDA's donors who find themselves spending a lot more on food for their own families
"We're looking for help, whatever you can do. If you can give a few cans, every bit helps. We'll sort it out."
Because of the RFDA's buying power every donation of one dollar allows it to purchase the equivalent of two meals for needy members of the community.