Food bank donors ‘tightened their belts’

The Red Deer Food Bank may have seen a drop in food and cash donations but there’s no need to “hit the panic button,” says executive director Fred Scaife.

The Red Deer Food Bank may have seen a drop in food and cash donations but there’s no need to “hit the panic button,” says executive director Fred Scaife.

“I guess one of the fortunate things of being around so long is I can kind of tell by looking at our warehouse we’re in not bad shape,” Scaife said on Wednesday.

In 2011, the food bank saw a 20 per cent decline in food donations and 10 per cent reduction in cash.

Scaife said it’s likely that people are finally spending money on long overdue vacations or treats for themselves.

“I think what has happened over the last four or five years is the donors have tightened their belts a little bit in their personal lives and I think they kind of loosened that belt a notch this year and maybe decided to do some stuff they haven’t done in a few years,” Scaife said.

He said people may have reduced donations this year, but the food bank’s donor base is well established.

“Throughout the recession, our donor base maintained the level of giving they had always done.”

And Scaife is sure the community’s generosity will continue.

The food bank’s annual cash budget runs at about $400,000, with a food budget worth about $2.5 million to $3 million.

In 2010, the food bank distributed 7,349 hampers to 9,700 adults and 7,200 children.

Depending on demand and donations, Scaife said he will know in a few months if a food reduction for clients will be necessary in 2012. For example, client hampers may be a little lighter or walk-in clients may have less access to overstock.

“We could make some adjustments. We’re not making adjustments yet.

“We believe that we supply a very much-needed product in a very good way to our clients. We’ve strived to get to this level for years.”

But there is hope.

A used van donated by Jody Derocher of Red Deer means the Red Deer Food Bank Barbecue Crew has a bigger vehicle to use for its fundraising barbecues to reach out to the community for donations.

The old Barbecue Crew vehicle broke down for good in the summer.

“It was an amazing gift. The Barbecue Crew has wheels. We’re way better equipped now to get out there and do some fundraising.”

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