Food demand rising

The Red Deer Food Bank Society has seen a dramatic increase in demand since this time last year.

The Red Deer Food Bank Society has seen a dramatic increase in demand since this time last year.

In July 2008 the food bank served 324 adults, compared to 774 this month. There were 406 children served in July 2008, compared to 532 in July 2009. The numbers were expected to increase more before the final official tally at the end of the day Friday.

For the year so far the food bank has seen a 60 per cent increase in demand, said Fred Scaife, executive director of the Red Deer Food Bank.

“Obviously it’s the economy,” Scaife said. “More people are coming to us now because they have been laid off statistically more than ever before.”

The food bank is in need of pasta, pasta sauce, canned meat and rice. Cash donations are also useful because then the food bank can buy the essentials in large quantities at a discount.

“I don’t think the trend is going to change, but what we’re hoping for is that we’ll hit that glass ceiling where we’re finally getting to everybody who needs help and not have substantial increases from month to month,” Scaife said.

The increased demand has meant the food bank has had to do some adjusting to stretch critical items further.

He said instead of putting two pasta sauces into hampers for single people or couples they’ve dropped it down to one. Things that were once extras, such as sardines, are more controlled and count as a canned meat item.

Scaife said the food bank has a six-week supply of food. In the past it would have had an eight to 10-weeks.

Scaife said in the past the top reason for people going to the food bank was because they had a low-paying job or were on social assistance and didn’t have enough money to cover their food needs. Scaife said the No. 1 reason now is as a result of being unemployed, the same for the past three months.

“People should understand it’s not an easy situation for these people,” Scaife said. “They’ve quite possibly never been here in their lives and were contributors in the past. So many of us are just one short step away from this place.”

A number of fundraisers are coming up in September, such as Operation Food Lift at the Red Deer Airport. Until then things will be pretty tight.

“There are food boxes in every grocery store. It becomes more important people recognize what they are and what they are for,” Scaife said.

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