‘People are struggling:’ Halifax seeing high demand for food banks, sleeping rough tent kits |

Nova Scotia’s food banks are coming up short this summer.

They say times are tough amid the high cost of living with already small budgets stretched thin. The city is also seeing a steady demand for its sleeping rough survival kits.

“People are struggling. There’s always more month than money,” says Rod Rowlands, the CEO of Beacon House Interfaith Society.

In a Facebook post on Monday the organization made a call for donations saying they’d never seen the pantry so bare.

“Our food donations coming in have slowed down considerably from where they were,” says Rowlands. “Plus, cash donations and that kind of thing as well.”

Rod Rowlands is the CEO of the Beacon House Interfaith Society.

Skye Bryden-Blom/Global News

“We’re starting to feel not so much that we can’t keep our doors open, because we will find a way, but we do need help from the community,” he says.

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Rowlands adds people have already been answering the call and bringing in donations. On Thursday, the shelves were almost full again. He says anything and everything helps from a single can of soup to an entire box.

Feed Nova Scotia says many food banks are facing similar challenges.

“We’ve seen a 25 per cent increase in the number of people accessing support from one of our member food banks compared to this time last year,” says communications manager Abby Crosby.

They say it can be a challenging time as kids are out of school and don’t have access to breakfast programs and other supports.

Crosby adds budgets are already limited and getting stretched thinner as the cost-of-living climbs.

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“The need is growing, and our member food banks are feeling that pinch,” Crosby says. “We’re seeing more new people than ever before.”

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Meantime, the housing and homelessness director for the Halifax Regional Municipality says the city has seen a steady demand for its survival kits for those sleeping rough, which include tents, sleeping bags, waterproof tarps, air mattresses, and socks.

“The demand this summer for tent kits has been higher than it has been previously,” says Max Chauvin. “We’ve been going through 10 to 12 a week over the past month and a half.”

Chauvin says the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia has more than 1,000 people looking for affordable housing in the city.

He estimates about 100 kits have been delivered since April.

“Tents are a Band-Aid and not a particularly good one at that — but if there’s no housing, there aren’t many options.”

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