VERNON – You’ve likely noticed your family’s grocery bill edging higher lately.
According to Statistics Canada, last month, Canadians paid over 4 per cent more for their groceries than they did just a year earlier.
But what if you were cooking for 19 or even 300? Okanagan institutions that help those in need are also seeing the impact of rising prices.
The Schubert Centre in Vernon is well known for providing programming for local seniors. However, they also serve lunch at a coffee shop, prepare food for Meals-on-Wheels and offer catering services.
The money from those catering jobs helps to pay for other services the Schubert Centre provides.
“That’s our most important revenue to keep the centre afloat,” says manager Jack Gareb.
Rising food prices have begun to eat away the program funds. They are not raising catering prices for now but if food costs continue to rise, they may have to.
“We’d have to increase our catering prices but our meals-on-wheels prices will remain the same because that is such an important program,” says Gareb.
Across town at Bill’s Place, an addiction recovery home run by the local John Howard Society, they are feeding 19 people three meals a day.
Their higher food costs have translated to menu changes. They are not serving as much meat.
The organization says if the price of food keeps going up they may be forced to make some tough decisions.
“The cost of food, next to staffing, is our biggest cost,” says the local John Howard Society’s program director Kelly Fehr. “Unless we can get help from the community, it is going to make it very hard for us to continue to operate facilities like addiction recovery homes and like homeless shelters.”
Vernon’s soup kitchen says the high cost of food means some who have never used their services before are coming in for meals.
“People have complained and said that they’ve never had to come to a soup kitchen before and now they can’t afford to pay for groceries especially at the end of the month,” says Lisa Anderson, director of resource development for the Upper Room Mission. “That is why we are seeing so many new faces coming in.”
As food costs are not expected to go down, the challenges these groups face are not expected to be solved anytime soon.