This piece was originally published in The Toronto Star. To read the full piece, click here.

If your favourite charity does work providing emergency supports like food, housing or health care, I can guarantee that they are facing significant struggles. Inflation, COVID, drastically increased need, decreased government funding, and burnout have created the perfect storm, leaving charities depleted in its dust.

The Stop persisted through these challenges and kept our doors open through lockdowns, economic uncertainty and volunteer shortages. We dedicated ourselves and doubled down, continuing to provide emergency food access services when our community needed it the most.

Considerably more community members are accessing our services due to the skyrocketing cost of essentials: from 50,000 meals served pre-pandemic to 80,000 last year. The cost of food supplies has made it more expensive for us to deliver our programs and maintain our community-wide reach.

For organizations like ours there is little to no relief in sight

Our staff costs have also increased in line with the heightened need for our services. We have experienced a sharp decline in donations under $1,000, as our donors were also hit by the inflation.

Front-line service providers are stuck between a rock and a hard place. We know how we are currently operating is unsustainable, but we are committed to not turning anyone away who comes to us for support. In the past year, the cost of providing a single food bank hamper increased by 20% – from $44 to $53.

Government supports like CERB and CEWS have subsided, leaving organizations with impossible choices. Should we limit the number of people who can access our services? Should we turn people away? How do we continue to provide for our community when they need us the most?

Your favourite charity is exhausted, overspent and overworked. We are facing challenges we have never seen before while trying to meet increased demand with less money, resources and energy. Our community members have become more vulnerable than ever.

Organizations providing front-line support are more essential than ever. We need all levels of government to step up and do their part, before further damage is done to our community.

Written by our Director of Development and Communications, Maria Rio.

The support of our donors is exclusively what keeps our programs running. Help us to provide our neighbours with healthy food and to run our vital community-building programs throughout the year: