Challenges of covering rising food costs are being felt by consumers across Canada, and food banks in southeastern Saskatchewan are no different.

Ronza Reynard, director of ministry for the Salvation Army in Estevan and Weyburn, said their trips to the grocery store are like anyone else's.

"Food costs are going up every day it seems like. It affects us just like it affects everybody else in the community. We try to take our donations that we're getting and stretch them as far as we can, pinch our pennies like everybody else. It is a bit of a struggle, and we have to be diligent in checking all of our prices everywhere we're purchasing to make sure we're getting the best deals for the food bank."

The cost of meat has risen notably over the last several months.

The monthly-average retail price of ground beef went from $11 per kilogram in June to $12.31 in October, according to Statistics Canada. Chicken rose from $7.72 to $8.51. Pork chops went from $12.09 to $12.43. And bacon topped $8 per 500-gram pack in August for the first time.

The farm-gate price of dairy is expected to increase February 1.

Reynard said there aren't any foods they buy that stand out as costing more. But one go-to, in particular, has become hard to find.

"It's hard to find soup for some reason right now. We've tried a few different ways to get some soup in the food bank, and we were able to come across a couple of cases last week. But it's interesting that that's the one that we're finding hard to get. We're going to have a couple of food drives here in December, and maybe people can find some soup and we can get the food bank filled back up. That's a staple that goes in all of the hampers."

The average monthly retail price for 284 mL of canned soup rose from $1.21 to $1.29, though the average retail prices for November weren't available when this was written.

Reynard wasn't sure whether more people were turning to them because of increases in some food prices. But she said they continue to see more and more people turn to the food bank.

"Every month we seem to see another four or five new people to the food bank. I think it's just the way things are right now. I think we will continue to see that. We're just hoping we're able to meet the need and be there when somebody comes a-knocking. We're just continuing seeing that increase."

The Salvation Army will have their Christmas kettles spread across locations beginning Wednesday as they are into their biggest fundraising part of the year. 

They're hoping to raise $20,000 through their kettles (and are still looking for volunteers to work them) and $70,000 through their Christmas mailers. 

DiscoverEstevan will also be at the Southern Plains Co-op locations in Estevan and Oxbow on December 9 for Blow Away Hunger, raising food and money for the food bank while broadcasting on Sun 102, Rock 106, and CJ 1150.