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Food bank usage soars in the province, running out of food in Sudbury

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Food bank use is at an all-time high in Ontario, according to a recent report.

The annual Hunger Report from Feed Ontario shows a growing number of people relying on food banks to feed themselves and their families.

"We've seen the largest single year increase on record with 800,000 Ontarians accessing our services almost six million times, and that’s a 40 per cent increase from last year alone," said Carolyn Stewart, CEO of Feed Ontario.

Stewart said one in 20 are relying on food banks top feed themselves and their families. Two out of five are first-time users.

Stewart said there are a number of factors at play causing a "perfect storm."

"Housing shortage and affordability crisis, a cost of living crisis, as well as inflation and precarious work and the dismantling of the manufacturing sector here in Ontario," she said.

Stewart said 70 per cent of food banks are having trouble meeting the increased demand.

Emergency food bank Inner City Home said the situation has worsened.

The annual Hunger Report from Feed Ontario shows a growing number of people relying on food banks to feed themselves and their families. (Amanda Hicks/CTV News)

"We're constantly raising money to buy food and we're constantly running out of money to buy food," said Joe Drago, president.

Drago said he recalls a time where 30 families were being helped daily. Just last week, he said there were 70 families in the course of two days. He said there was one day where they ran out of food.

"There wasn’t one thing left and we had to go out and tell people we couldn’t feed anyone else," he said.

Drago said he's seen an increase in first-timers and newcomers.

"We had four families from Nigeria who had been in town three or four days in need of food and in need of dwelling," he said. "It certainly isn't getting better. It certainly is getting worse."

Additionally, Drago said Inner City Home was broken into over the weekend, after someone kicked in the back door. He said electronics, cash and files were stolen.

"You have to figure what we have to do now to replace these things," he said. "We have to spend money that we should be spending on food and spending on food to feed needy families."

Drago said it comes during a difficult time.

"Unnecessary and really very malicious," Drago said. "I'm so upset and hope that something can be done that we eventually know who did this."

With the holidays coming, he said volunteers are needed. Non-perishable items are welcome, but cash donations can go a long way.

"Cash donations help," he said. "Every one dollar of cash we can purchase $3 of food."

Feed Ontario said it is calling for improvement of social assistance programs, investing in affordable housing and developing labour laws that protect workers.

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