NL Gazette

Calls to the grocery hotline are steadily increasing, Food First N.L. Says.

CEO Josh Smee says food prices have risen, heating costs have risen, and people’s finances haven’t changed.

Food First N.L.’s community food helpline told it’s alarming with a dramatic increase in calls from people who are hungry and in need of help. Josh Smee, CEO of a nonprofit organization, said the hotline, which guides people to local food programs and, in some cases, gives out gift cards, receives about 300-350 calls during the summer. 

There were more than 500 people in November. “Rates are rising,” Smee told CBC Radio’s St. John’s Morning Show. “It is more than expected when the COVID was closed in early 2021, but this is extremelly noteworthy. ” 

Smee said seniors are supported by senior citizens’groups and people under the age of 18 are supported by dedicated youth groups. Many of the calls from Food First are working for people he said.Population and single parents have nutritional needs that are not covered by the Joint Committee.

He told that majority of people belong to this demographic. 

“I think we hear from a lot of people who have given birth to help support their families. We hear from a lot of people who have children.”

Smee said it’s been a challenge to stay on top of complaints, and there’s a backlog that has grown dramatically, leaving resources “totally short.” 

Smee said the increase in appeals was in part due to the lack of funding for organizations launching food programs during the pandemic, he said. Food prices are also going up at a time when the days are colder and heating bills are starting to soar, he said. 

“I think we see something that’s going to last, unfortunately. Food prices are going up [and] there’s still a per-household economic divide due to COVID,” he said. 

“At the same time, we’re running out of resources in emergency systems and we’re not seeing much change in people’s household finances.” Smee encourages people to donate cash to their local food programs and email their MPs and MPPs to lobby for change.

Read More: Calls steadily increasing to food helpline, says Food First N.L. | CBC News

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