Among the recipients is the unemployed construction worker Herman Henton, whose wife is a hardware store worker and is now the sole breadwinner of her family of five. They tried to get grocery stamps, but were told they only qualified for $ 25 monthly federal food aid.
“As a man, as a father, as a provider, I felt at a low point. I felt downcast, “said Henton as he waited in his car near West Saskatoon Assistance Ministries, which are receiving groceries from the Saskatoon Food Bank for their care packages to feed families for a week.” In a situation like this, there is nothing you can really do. “
The Saskatoon Food Bank’s payouts now average 363,000 kilograms per day after hitting the unprecedented £ 1 million mark in the spring, a level the organization is still consistently delivering.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, the group’s average daily distribution was 184,000 kilograms, said Brian Greene, president of the Saskatoon Food Bank.
Then workers in Saskatoon and millions across the country were suddenly kicked off work and forced to rely on the handouts.
Almost overnight, one of America’s most ethnically and racially diverse cities became the symbol of a desperate need as the food bank struggled to get enough milk, bread, vegetables, and meat from various sources to feed the hungry.
Living from paycheck to paycheck, many people in Saskatoon and the United States have been surprised by the economic fallout from the coronavirus, which initially cost the nation 22 million jobs, of which 10.7 million have not returned.
“Forty percent of households have less than $ 400 to weather a storm,” Greene said, referring to a Federal Reserve poll. “When this crisis hit the number of families in need of help, it was immediate and huge.”
After Henton was released, he and his wife ate one meal a day for their three children to have all three.
His family is one of around 126,500 the Saskatoon Food Bank has been helping with boxes of groceries every week since March via its system, which is operated by workers and volunteers who sort, package and pack the groceries onto trucks that deliver their loads Distribution centers in the greater Saskatoon area deliver suburban sprawl.
Nationwide, the increase in nonprofit food distribution “has remained high,” said Katie Fitzgerald, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Feeding America, a national network of 200 food banks.
Her group increased the amount of food they distributed to 907 million kilograms (2 billion pounds) from April to June, compared to 590 million kilograms (1.3 billion pounds) in January to March.
The federal government has helped meet demand with programs like one that buys agricultural goods such as vegetables, meat, and dairy products that were originally made for shuttered restaurants and gives them away for free to food banks and the distribution groups they work with.
However, funds for the US Department of Agriculture’s multi-billion dollar Farmers to Families program will expire in late October.
Individual food banks get 20% to 40% of the food they sell from other government programs, including one that helps farmers harm through foreign tariffs by buying their produce, beef, pork and chicken, and making sure producers get paid, while edible foods don’t. Don’t end up in landfill. This program has been financed until 2020.
The food banks get the rest of what they distribute from supermarket or farm donations, or buy it with donated money.
Fitzgerald said the country’s food banks have enough groceries for now to meet US demand, but traders are “worried about the future” as winter approaches.
Food demand in the Saskatoon area, which has long been exposed to the volatility of the oil industry, is likely to continue without further government relief to the unemployed, said Mark Brown, CEO of West Saskatoon Assistance Ministries, which feed nearly 2,000 people weekly with food.
“I think we will have increased needs in our community for at least two years,” he said.
The charity was founded in 1982 to help people during an oil bankruptcy that cut 225,000 jobs and plunged the city’s real estate market. The group also helps people pay their rent and find work.
On a day of food distribution, many people who waited in their cars with their hatches open so the bags could be loaded into their vehicles in a socially distant way were reluctant to wait about their economic misfortune or other reasons for a lineup.
Unemployed stage worker Priscilla Toro said she was embarrassed to fall back on the free food line, but added, “We have to get through it. We have to eat. “
Henton said he was just grateful that he and many others could feed their families with the extra help.
“It can happen to anyone,” he said.
Phoenix reported snow.
On Twitter: twitter.com/asnowreports, twitter.com/JohnMone