Unsurprisingly, the rising cost of living is putting pressure on low-income families. 

The cost of groceries has been climbing, gas is going for over $2 per litre, and interest rates recently went up across Canada. 

South East Helping Hands Operations Manager Ken Dyck says their clients are starting to feel the effects of inflation in a big way. 

"They're talking when they come in. It doesn't take too much, people that are living right on the edge that were still not coming here, might be pushed to coming here."

Larissa Sandulak from Niverville Helping Hands agrees, noting “Our clients, they already have tight budgets, tighter than most of ours, and I believe they have been feeling the pinch and the stretch.” 

Sandulak says they have also noticed a demographic shift in their clientele over the last few months. 

"We have seen an increase of families, our numbers have been somewhat steady but we have noticed an increase of families and not so much single adults. Lots of parents of kids and the like."

Meanwhile, Dyck says the monetary donations South East Helping Hands receives don't go quite as far as they used to, but they aren't in a place of panic yet. 

"So far, donations are still coming in. With food products, I am expecting it to start slowing down. Even the donations we get from the stores. I think they are going to start not having as much surplus and right away that means our surplus goes down."

Dyck says this is making them somewhat nervous. 

"We are all talking about it like 'what are we going to do if things really slow down?' Well, we will cross that bridge when we get there like we always do. Steinbach is very good at helping us out, when we put out a call, everyone comes to bat."

Sandulak says in their case, she believes it’s the time of year that is making the biggest difference.  

"Our budget for purchasing food is definitely not going as far. It is not affected by inflation but after the Christmas season people don't donate as often so I think it is just coinciding with a lull in donations. In general, we would have a need for donations if people feel led to do that. Just think about us if you are going through the grocery store."