Demand higher at Oakville’s Kerr Street Mission due to soaring food prices


Published October 27, 2022 at 3:49 pm

Families are increasingly having trouble keeping up with soaring food prices and are turning to places like Kerr St. Mission to help get by. KERR STREET MISSION PHOTO

Grocery stores may reeling in record profits, but soaring food prices are making it as tough as ever on food sharing charities like Oakville’s Kerr Street Mission.

While Statistics Canada reported earlier this week that the consumer price index fell to 6.9 per cent, down from seven per cent in August, soaring food prices are keeping it higher than it should be.

Economists expected that number to fall to about 6.7 per cent, but food prices rocked up to 11.4 per cent. That marks the fastest pace of increase in grocery bills since Aug. 1, 1981.

Families are increasingly having trouble keeping up and are turning to places like Kerr St. Mission to help get by.

“Yes, the demand is even higher than it used to be,” said Heidi Avery, Director of Fundraising and Stewardship with the Christian Mission. “We have a lot of families that have come in from Ukraine that sort of need everything. With the price of everything going up and up and up, people can hardly afford to put up food on the table and then there’s their own financial requirement, so I would says the need is definitely increasing.

“It will increase even more over a bit as they lead up to Christmas. Community support is so important, more now than ever.”

The rising prices at the grocery store show that food inflation is already double that of the overall inflation.

Some price hikes are stunning for shoppers. Fresh vegetables are up 11.8 per cent, dairy products up by 9.7 and cereals have skyrocketed in price up 17.9 per cent.

Baked goods are up to 14.8 per cent and fresh fruit prices have spiked up 14.8 per cent.

With Thanksgiving just past and Christmas around the corner, the Kerr St. Mission is looking to support from the community to help get through these economically trying times at what is normally a very busy time of the season.

Avery says Oakville residents have always been generous and giving and they’ll counting again on that goodwill through the next few months as prices at grocery stores continue to increase at record rates.

That goodwill will really helps as the Kerr St. Mission kicks off its annual Christmas Wonders and Beyond program.

“We obviously take financial donations as well that can help families,” she said. “We have a big Christmas program this is going to be starting as of November and it really gives our clients Christmas in a box. They receive give cards that they then can go and shop with themselves to buy food or buy gifts for their families. We also give them toys if they have young kids or teenagers.”

The holiday program, says Avery, serves about 700 families at Christmas time.

“They have to register with Kerr St. and be part of the program,” she said of those need support. “We’ve been doing this for about 18 years. Helping our neighbours in need over the holidays.”

Avery says several food and produce items are needed now, including canned meat and fish.

Tomato products, be it tomato sauce, canned or dice tomatoes, are always needed.

“Anything tomato related we always run out of for some reason,” said Avery. “People like to make pasta at home.”

The local charity says it works hard to provide for those in need. They have all the packaged foods like soups, cereals, rice and past, but also need to hand out a lot of fresh food.

“So once they register, they get eggs, protein, they get fresh fruit and vegetables, because really you can’t survive on a diet of just packaged foods. So, that’s been really a focus for us,” said Avery. “It’s a program that we do called Choose Fresh. Our clients pay a small, small amount and then Kerr St. and our donors pay the rest.

“Once a month they get a nice basket of produce they can use and protein and eggs.”

While donations are always important at this time of year, Avery reminds Oakville residents that community support is needed throughout the year.

“I will say a lot of people do want to support and donate every year, but again there’s time where our shelves are starting to get bare so we do need to make sure that we fill that up,” she said. “In the spring, late winter, say March and April, that’s also (a busy time).

“They donate at Christmas time and then kind of forget, so it’s good to be able to provide that message that throughout the year that we need help.”

Avery asks that anyone who wants to support the Kerr Street Mission to go their website here.

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