As the need for help increases, a food bank in Happy Valley-Goose Bay is giving out grocery store vouchers as well as food to give people in need more agency in what they eat.
Jill Elson, community outreach worker at the Labrador Friendship Centre, which operates the food bank, told CBC News that people who come to the centre get items the food bank has in house and also a voucher for a local grocery store.
"We give the choice back to the individual on what they want to purchase."
The person then can go to either of the grocery stores in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and buy their choice of meat, fruit and vegetables, and milk and eggs. Previously, the food bank's options on site were limited to milk, apples and oranges, and hamburger meat.
Elson said the Labrador Friendship Centre has gotten a lot of positive feedback so far on its new voucher program.
"One person said to me a couple weeks ago that she didn't need to touch her income support cheque to purchase most of her fruits and vegetables and meat," Elson said. "She got to use the voucher and she got to put her income support cheque towards other bills."
Elson said the food bank has seen an increase in the number of people needing help in the past six to eight months and is helping between 100 to 160 families per month.
"It's very, very busy," Elson said, adding they try their best to help everyone who needs use the food bank for any reason.
Elson said rising food prices are having an effect on the food bank's users as well as on the food bank's own orders. The food bank spent more than $6,000 on a recent order just two or three weeks ago, said Elson, and they're preparing another order because they're already starting to run out of items.
"Everybody's feeling that crunch across Canada, but unfortunately those who are on fixed incomes or income support and low income, they're really, really feeling it this time of year," she said.
Your generosity helps brighten the holiday season for families across the province. Support your local food banks by making a donation online at www.cbc.ca/feednl.
Donations will be accepted until midnight on Dec. 31.
CBC Newfoundland and Labrador's Labrador Morning is holding its annual Turkey Drive at 12 Loring Dr. in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Friday from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. AT.