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Sunday, August 12, 2018

More Demand On United Way Social Program

Grey Bruce | by Claire McCormack  

Backpack program application increase sparks concern from executive director

The United Way of Bruce Grey is expressing concern about the growing number of backpack applications.

Executive Director Francesca Dobbyn says, "The United Way is deeply concerned that the program is indicating an increase in local child poverty rates as the population of children is declining in the region, but more of those children are being raised in

The Backpack Program provides low income school kids with backpacks and supplies ahead of each school year.

Agency requested backpacks from the program have risen 16 per cent from 2017, going
from 1326 to 1534.

Dobbyn says, "I am concerned if we see an increase of 16 per cent in requests from the individuals in our community, the overall demand for the program could exceed 2,400 backpacks, that's 400 more than we anticipated."

She says it could put the organization significantly over budget for 2018.

Dobbyn says they are seeing a 23 per cent increase in the number of requests from the younger grades.

She notes it's unclear what is causing the increase, but wonders if housing affordability is driving young families out of major urban areas into the rural communities.

"We are also seeing more and more families financially challenged by precarious work and the lack of living wage jobs in the region," says Dobbyn.

To support the program donations can be made online at,
by phone at 519 376 1560 or by mail or in person at 380 9th street East, Owen Sound.

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