Three tonnes of donated yogurt will help ensure those who use the Mississauga food bank have access to an affordable, healthy diet this holiday season, says its CEO.

On Tuesday morning, Food Banks Mississauga received a gift of more than 4,600 tubs of yogurt from Lactalis Canada, which is donating eight tonnes of its Olympic Organic yogurt to food banks across the country.

“Today, we are here to give back to the community … because we consider that a little care can do a lot of good,” said Adrienne Pagot-Gerault of Lactalis Canada.

“The (food insecurity) statistics are growing and it’s not good.”

Tuesday’s donation to Food Banks Mississauga was made possible through a partnership with Feed Ontario, which is the province’s largest collective of hunger relief organizations.

Each year, Feed Ontario provides more than 4.5 million meals to people in need. The organization recently released a report that indicated that the number of people who used food banks in the province went up 38 per cent last year – the largest single-year increase they’ve ever recorded.

Like many communities across the country, Mississauga is seeing an unprecedented amount of people experiencing food insecurity and a spike in those seeking ongoing assistance from the food bank.

“Here in Mississauga, we’re seeing 82 per cent more people than we were feeding before the pandemic, so certainly donations of all sizes and types right now are very appreciated as food banks (like us) try to keep up with this rising demand we’re seeing across the country,” Meghan Nicholls, the head of Food Banks Mississauga, told CP24.

“We’re super appreciative of organizations (like Lactalis Canada) that step up to make donations like this.”

Nicholls said monetary donations are also greatly needed to help pay for the delivery of the food, staff wages, rent, and myriad other bills and overhead expenses.

It’s been especially challenging this holiday season, she said, as donations are down.

“We are really struggling with this increasing demand and decreasing donations, and no response from any level of government to the drastic increase in food bank usage across the country,” Nicholls said.

According to Food Banks Mississauga’s Annual Impact Report, five per cent of that city’s population is now using a food bank.

From June 2022 to May 2023, Food Banks Mississauga and its network of almost 70 member agencies provided food to almost 36,000 people in need, including more than 11,000 children. This represents an 18 per cent increase year over year, with more than double the number of clients being first-time food bank users.