(UVic Students' Society)

A society serving university students in Victoria is seeing a surge in traffic at its food bank despite the summer slow down on campus. 

Typically, the University of Victoria Students’ Society (UVSS) sees fewer students accessing its food bank and free store this time of year compared with the fall and winter months.

“It always is busy at our food bank, but demand has not decreased as it usually does in the summer,” a UVSS spokesperson said Tuesday.

“Instead, we often have more and more people coming to get food and household items,” they told Victoria Buzz.

Crediting itself as a community space, the UVSS provides essential food and supplies for students, as well as hampers filled with items such as eggs, milk, canned food, fresh produce, household items, and safer-sex supplies.

The UVSS sums up the current demand as “extremely high,” with the influx “clearly linked” to students having trouble finding affordable housing, plus food being “too expensive” for many to buy on their own.

Food Banks Canada (FBC) echoes these comments.

Still, it says it’s an issue that extends far beyond, as more Canadians face hunger and food insecurity due to rising inflation, as highlighted in a recent report.

On Monday, FBC said data shows an estimated 7 million Canadians now report going hungry, with 23% eating less “than they think they should” because there isn’t enough money for food.

As warmer months move in, FBC’s CEO Kirstin Beardsley says food banks across the country usually see an easing in customers—but this year, food bankers on the frontlines anticipate no signs of slowdowns.

That’s prompted a push for people to support their local food banks, including the UVSS’ food bank, which “happily accepts donations” and encourages people to email foodbank@uvss.ca for more information.

“This summer will be the toughest Canada’s food banks have ever experienced in our 41-year history,” added Beardsley.

“The majority of food banks in every region of Canada are already stretched to their limits, with demand expected to remain high throughout the summer months as more and more Canadians struggle to cope with rising inflation.”

Beardsley calls Canada’s social reforms “outdated” and says they’re “failing to keep pace with the new pressures of inflation and dramatically rising housing costs that are affecting every region of the country.”

“It’s time to tackle hunger at its root causes by improving access to affordable housing and piloting innovative, long-term income supports,” she said.

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