Canadian food bank use has risen sharply to the highest levels on record in the past two years, a report stated yesterday.

A Food Banks Canada report found that almost 900,000 people — 9.2 per cent higher than a year earlier — used food banks in March 2010.

It’s a sobering reversal of the declines in food bank use between 2004 and 2008.

“We believe that it is unacceptable for anyone to go hungry in a nation as prosperous as ours,” said Katharine Schmidt, executive director of Food Banks Canada.

While the report said the recession is the reason for this increase — people who lost their jobs have not been able to find new ones or their new jobs don’t pay enough to sustain them — in Ottawa, the increase that Peter Tilley has seen is “not so much driven by the economy as the cold weather.”

The Ottawa Food Bank, where Tilley is the executive director, saw a 13 to 16 per cent increase in January, February and March 2010 from the same period in 2009.

“Ottawa hasn’t been hit as hard, but with the utilities costs ... We’re dreading what’s going to happen this year, given the hydro costs,” said Tilley.

With files from the canadian press