Food bank coping with summertime blues

Fred Scaife and his team at the Red Deer Food Bank have been busy trying to offset the typical summertime decline in donations.

Fred Scaife and his team at the Red Deer Food Bank have been busy trying to offset the typical summertime decline in donations.

Such work is necessary, the executive director said, as the food bank is still dealing with a high volume of clients. Demand increased by triple digits during the recession, he said.

Scaife was pleased to note, however, that for the first time in 18 months there hasn’t been a substantial increase in need over previous years.

“It looks like there’s hope on the horizon,” he said.

“But make no mistake, we still have that same volume. It’s just not going up as much anymore.”

Despite an improving economy, Scaife said it will realistically take 12 months for the recovery to positively impact local hunger and drive down demand at the food bank.

From numerous pancake breakfasts to Buccaneers football games and even a cruise night, food bank staff have been out in full force around the city this summer trying to boost monetary and food supplies.

“We’re working hard this summer,” Scaife said, adding they’ve been at more events then ever before.

“One of the most important things, for us, is to be out in the community meeting people face to face so that they know who we are. And that gives us the opportunity to explain to them why we need their support.”

All the hard work seems to be paying off as the food bank was the recipient charity for numerous events during Westerner Days. Together, those events raised more than $12,000 to benefit the organization.

The food bank also recently received 40 boxes of food from the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery, which collected the goods in lieu of charging an admission during the exhibits of Hungry Planet and Red Deer Eats.

“Red Deer has never failed us,” Scaife said.

“This organization has always been supported by our people and I’m sure always will be.”

At least one other Central Alberta food bank has also benefited from a western fair.

During the Ponoka Stampede, which ran June 28 to July 4, the World Professional Chuckwagon Association’s Race Against Hunger program presented by Encana collected 135 kg of non-perishable food and upwards of $8,000 for the Ponoka Food Bank.

President June Lee said these donations will help the organization replenish its stock so it can get through the remainder of the summer.

“We can’t complain with this kind of boost,” she said.

Lee said the Ponoka Food Bank also experienced an increase in demand during the recession, which has since leveled off.

ptrotter@bprda.wpengine.com

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