Barrie Food Bank sees significant spike in users during March

April has slowed and executive director Peter Sundborg believes government assistance programs is the reason

The executive director of the Barrie Food Bank predicts they won’t see the real fallout from COVID-19 until later in the year.

This is despite the fact the number of users to the food bank in March was nearly double from the same period a year ago. Peter Sundborg said they assisted 2,355 people last month and their were 183 first timer users in March, when normally the average is 60 to 70.

“I don’t think the numbers are going to be that high in April.” said Sundborg. “There are now low days and high days.”

There were times in March the food bank was seeing 100 people day.

He attributes the spike to panic and uncertainty because COVID-19 was new, people lost their jobs and government assistance programs had not been introduced.

Sundborg said financial resources provided by the federal and provincial governments have helped. He points to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, faster benefits from Employment Insurance and an increase to the Child Tax Benefit.

“On April 3, we had 22 people come through the door. 60 would be normal.”

Sundborg said the impact of COVID-19 will become clearer once things settle down and we learn about businesses that could not make it.

“Right now, everyone know’s someone who isn’t working.”

His concern is what will happen in the late fall and into 2021, especially if current government programs and other forms of assistance are not extended.

Currently, the food bank is providing pre-bagged groceries to individuals and families. Sundborg said the best way for people to continue to support the food bank is to make donations online.