Patricia Wilson (left), and Amherst Mayor Rob Small, help out with two baskets of bread donated to the Amherst food bank. From 2008 to 2009, there was a 20 per cent increase in the number of Nova Scotians relying on food banks. The only province with a larger increase was Alberta. Mitch MacDonald - Amherst Daily News
AMHERST – Demonstrators were raising awareness Tuesday, on what was designated as National Hunger Awareness Day at Amherst’s Victoria Square.
About 20 people held banners and flashed stickers to rally for hunger relief across Canada, as they walked down Victoria Street on Tuesday.
Hunger is closer to home than many realize, said volunteer Patricia Wilson.
"We used to think of hunger being in far-off lands but we've noticed a steady increase in new people needing the food banks," she said.
Over the past year, there has been about a 20 per cent increase in the local food bank's demand.
Canadians are using food banks more than ever before. In 2009, nearly 800,000 Canadians used a food bank, according to Food Banks Canada's statistics. More than 70,000 of these were first-time users, marking an 18 per cent increase from 2008, the largest on record.
Being involved with the Amherst Food Bank for 20 years, Wilson said the increase is a result of tough economic times. This has made the town's ongoing support for the bank vital, she said.
"It's one way which the community bands together to support a common cause or need."
The day brings an important issue to light, said Mayor Rob Small.
Last week, at a Federation of Canadian Municipalities meeting in Toronto it was clear the problem is nationwide, said Small.
The solution will need everyone's help, he said.
"This includes not just municipal, but provincial and federal strategies that will support our citizens."
The lack of money available to those in need of food and shelter doesn't limit itself to any age group or social class, said Small.
"There are people who have pensions that can't afford to survive without food bank assistance."
The overwhelming support from volunteers, contributors donating food and money and organizers of events has made the mission to fight hunger a community project.
"There's a wholeheartedly thank you to our supporters," said Wilson.