December is usually a busy month for the Central Food Network, but its Executive Director Tina Jackson says the need will be even greater this year because of the COVID 19 pandemic.

The Central Food Network operates food banks in Wilberforce and Cardiff. 

Jackson says she expects a 10-percent increase in new clients this month. Of that, she says a lot of those people are vulnerable to the virus.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR) says demand is still rising during the pandemic’s second wave, meaning the need for food at food banks is increasing as well.

“We saw an initial spike when the pandemic first started,” Jackson says. “As government financial assistance was released, we saw a dip. That was good. People were able to meet their own needs, but in September our numbers began to climb again.”

“They are stressed out,” she says about what her team is hearing from the community. “They are worried about the rising cost of food. They are worried about their own health.” 

“It’s the mental toll of not being able to access the same face to face support you could in years past,” Jackson says. She adds that it’s important to remember that anybody can fall on tough times. “They’re all different people,” Jackson says. “They all have unique stories.”

If you are going to donate food, the Health Unit says to call ahead of time to see what is needed or if any special precautions are in place. Jackson adds that money is the best thing to donate because it allows the food banks to buy what is needed when it’s needed.