The elephant in the room for a lot of families in 2023 is food insecurity. Major Brenda Hammond from the Salvation Army says a lot has changed since the pandemic began.
"Things that we were always able to rely on, we no longer can rely on," says Hammond regarding canned goods. "It is a time of insecurity within Portage, for sure."
She explains that since January, the food bank has had to buy food to fill basic hampers.
"It's very expensive to buy food to give away. And I think that's a good example of how things have changed."
The Salvation Army peaked at providing food hampers for 372 families in July, a record high, according to Hammond.
"That's not how many people we serve. That's how many families we serve," she continues. "We're finding people that the folks with low-income jobs are not able to keep the bills paid and still keep the family fed."
Hammond says she has heard some in the community question who uses the food bank and whether they are genuinely qualified to need their assistance.
"We work on an assessment basis. We do ask difficult questions. And the folks that are coming to the food bank really are struggling financially. It's very hard when you have less money per month than you previously did. Right now, everyone is having to roll back."
Hammond notes that when families are struggling, they can be confident that the Salvation Army will be.
"We want to know for sure that if they're having a hard time, they can come to the food bank and that we'll be able to support them."
She notes that the producers in the community deserve a big thank you for all the fresh vegetables they have provided.
"I am praying for a late freeze. So, those last few vegetables in the garden can make it to the food bank."
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