Supply chain issues, high prices affecting how much food banks can buy and donate
Supply chain issues and higher prices are affecting grocery stores in Sault, meaning local food banks are also facing challenges.
“I don’t think it’s affecting donations as much, but we’re struggling to buy food,” said Maj. Sean Furey of the Salvation Army’s Elgin Street Food Bank.
“The food supply is becoming more and more difficult. Because stores don’t have it, they can’t sell it to us. I’ve been doing this for 20 years and this is the first time we’ve had trouble eating. We don’t like not being able to put everything we want in food baskets, like bread or margarine.
“Generally, everything is in short supply at one time or another. We had difficulty obtaining fruits and vegetables. One week we couldn’t order bread. They don’t have the quantities. We have to order 20 cases of margarine, but sometimes we only receive one. When we buy food, we can no longer get it at the sale price, which makes it twice as expensive for us,” Furey said.
“We have always been blessed here with the donations that come in. The Stamp Out Hunger food drive (organized by Canada Post employees on May 7) was good, but now our biggest problem is finding the food we need to buy fresh produce. It is a problem.”
“We are worried because our number of customers is increasing incredibly. Before the pandemic, we were doing 15 families a day and could help them, now we are doing 30 to 38 families plus the 300 people we feed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
“I suspect the supply chain issues will be resolved within months as everything comes back to life after the pandemic. I guess we’re going to have to live with that until things get better,” Furey said.
Furey thanked Metro grocery stores and the general public for the food donations that are still ongoing.
“When you go to wholesalers to buy the big 20 gallon pails of margarine and many types of larger things, often they are out and sometimes we also have to rush for snack bags, sandwich bags, bags in paper to put the lunches in. It was random,” said Ron Sim, of Sault Ste. General manager of the community center Marie Soup Kitchen.
Food donations to the soup kitchen were boosted by Canada Post’s Stamp Out Hunger program, Sim said.
“The community has been so generous…we hope this will get us through the summer because we know that in June things slow down for the summer period,” Sim said.
“If the war in Ukraine continues and they can’t get the wheat out of the country, the whole world will be affected at some point, which is very sad.”
The price of eggs, cold cuts and cheese have all gone up, creating challenges for those tasked with buying food for the soup kitchen, Sim said.
“It hurts the bottom line because right now what we’re doing is trying to save money because our building here is now over 50 years old and the roof is going down. , so we learned that we must have it changed within the next couple of years.We had a roof estimate before this happened at $105,000 and our last estimate has gone up to $135,000.
Sim said a fundraiser will be held to raise funds for this much needed repair.
Although The Soup Kitchen’s after-school programs are supported by the District of Sault Ste. Marie’s Social Services Board of Directors, the center is strictly dependent on food donations from businesses and the general public.
Sim added that in-person dining at the Soup Kitchen was still closed and not expected to resume until September due to what he described as “social security concerns”.
Sim said security guards will be on site when the center reopens for in-person meal times.
“Shelves are at the normal low level for this time of year, but supply chain issues haven’t seemed to affect us too much so far. We haven’t noticed anything too dramatic yet,” said Sara McCleary, St. Vincent Place Marketing and Events Coordinator, referring to the St. Vincent Place Food Bank.
“We are running out of hygiene items, foods like Sidekicks.”
The St. Vincent Place Food Bank depends on donations from individuals, small businesses and church groups.
McCleary said Rome is donating baked goods while the St. Vincent Food Bank will purchase food from grocery stores as needed.
“With supply chain issues, we can be flexible and donate what we have, but the biggest concern is the cost of groceries right now. It’s harder for people to be able to fill their own shelves let alone buy extra to bring here.
McCleary asks the general public to be aware of the continued need for food and to donate if and when they can.
“Everyone likes to be outside in the summer, so it’s not uncommon for people to forget what’s going on, but the need doesn’t go away.”