A food insecurity fund was started up in Portage la Prairie due to the high costs of groceries leaving people in need of what should be taken for granted. 

Portage Community Revitalization Corporation's Community Aunty Pauline Johnston says they're working with Real Foods in Portage, as well as the Portage Supermarket and Co-op Supermarket.

"We'll either provide gift certificates, depending on the situation, or food hampers from Real Foods on Tuesdays and Fridays, or when they're delivered," says Johnston. "Anyone you know that needs a little extra help, that maybe hasn't had the chance to register with the Salvation Army, or is weeks away from getting another hamper, can certainly give us a call and we'll do what we can to help out." 

She explains the cost of food is so high today that it's not only families struggling, but also those with small children and seniors.

"Anything we can do to help, we're more than willing to," continues Johnston. "We've had the school division put out a letter to the families in the different schools. We were kind of overwhelmed with phone calls for most of last week. I'm just catching up now and getting back to everyone to give them an idea of how the program works and get their name on the list." 

February 9th was the date when the program started, and she's unsure of when it will end. 

"With the response we've had, we've certainly handed out a lot of hampers," adds Johnston. "So, I'm not really sure if it's going to last till the end of June. People can certainly give us a call if you're looking for more information at 204-240-7272, ext. 107, and that's Pauline Johnston."

If you'd like to help others out in the community to lessen the burden, Johnston says donating to the Salvation Army goes a long way.

"I'm finding that a lot of families are registered, but even a hamper once every four weeks isn't always that helpful when you know you have kids in school," notes Johnston. "You need lunches... stuff like that, right? Food just isn't going as far these days. The numbers of people in need from other organizations indicate that everyone's noticing an increase."

Johnston says the situation is extremely evident, noting referrals are coming to them from many different groups within our community.