WINNIPEG — A new report is highlighting how many Manitobans are increasingly relying on food banks to keep up with the cost of living.
Harvest Manitoba launched the third annual Harvest Voices 2023 report on Thursday, highlighting how services like theirs are helping people struggling to put food on the table.
The voices echoing in the report emanate from an extensive survey conducted by Harvest Manitoba throughout September 2023. The results are not just informative but also shed light on the relationship between the utilization of food banks and a broader spectrum of economic instability, encompassing income challenges and a lack of robust support systems and programs for those in need.
“This report gives us a picture of who our clients are, the challenges they face every day, and the help they need,” said Meaghan Erbus, director of network, advocacy and education.
“It’s just one snapshot of the real-world impact of food insecurity and poverty in our province, and we’ve found that 40% of the clients we now serve are employed. The report also has several eye-opening personal stories that should inspire us to work for a future where no Manitoban goes hungry.”
According to the report, there has been a 150 percent increase in food bank usage since 2019, with a 30 percent increase this year.
Iryna, one of the many displaced Ukrainians in Manitoba, shares her story as one of seven personal narratives featured in Harvest Voices 2023.
“Our standard of living is adversely affected by inflation and the subsequent rise in food costs,” says Iryna. “However, Harvest’s food banks enable us to offset these challenges and make our lives more comfortable.”
More than 50 percent of first-time food bank clients are displaced Ukrainians.
Vince Barletta, president and CEO of Harvest Manitoba, points to inflation, escalating grocery prices, rent hikes, and fuel costs as collectively impacting food bank recipients.
“Prices continue to soar for nearly every commodity, especially food,” he said. “Additionally, the significant influx of displaced Ukrainians has further expanded the food bank client list.”
The full report can be found below: