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Food bank usage on the rise, donations declining

House of Blessing and the Salvation Army food banks are reporting donations have slowed and usage is on the rise. Both are eagerly awaiting spring food drives
Empty shelves at the Salvation Army food bank in Stratford.

Food banks in Stratford are reporting higher usage and less donations. 

Theresa McMurray, executive director of House of Blessing, a food bank in the city, told StratfordToday that many factors are affecting those compounding issues, including the infamous rise in grocery prices. 

“Everybody’s experiencing the price increases that are happening,” McMurray said. “That does have an impact on people's ability to donate like they might have in the past.” 

Last year, House of Blessing helped a historic 233 families (representing 461 individuals).

Since January of this year, they have helped 40 new families. McMurray said that is about five families more than this time last year. 

“You're hearing all different kinds of stories when people come in,” McMurray explained. “We're just here to help whatever way we can.”

Jennifer Morris, community and family services manager at the Salvation Army Stratford-St. Marys, told StratfordToday a similar story. 

The food bank used to average about 7-10 households a day in Stratford.

Now that rate has nearly doubled. 

Fueling that problem is a decline in donations, which Morris said is not unusual. Typically, the food bank receives many donations in December, which carries them into their next food drive in the spring. 

Another factor putting strain on the food banks is staffing. Morris said that the Salvation Army food bank is at about half of what their staff should be. McMurray concurred, saying that the House of Blessing is affected by the same staffing shortages that other organizations are experiencing.

Both organizations are eagerly awaiting spring food drives. 

The Salvation Army food drive begins on April 1 and the House of Blessing food drive begins on March 30. 

McMurray is encouraging everyone, food drive or not, to do what they can to help the community. 

“Even if it's one thing that someone can donate, it does make a difference,” she said.