The Red Deer Food Bank’s cupboards are getting bare as the demand for hampers continues to grow.
Executive director Fred Scaife said client numbers are expected to be about five per cent higher in 2019 than last year. He anticipates about 20,000 people to be fed by the end of December, compared to 18,000 in 2018.
Scaife looks forward to the start of the “giving season” to replenish supplies.
“This is the time of year when our food stocks are incredibly low and our bank account is down,” he added, noting that about 70 per cent of the food bank’s stocks and cash comes in between now and Christmas.
While Scaife is relieved that demand for food hampers is no longer growing by double digits, as it was for the past five to seven years, it’s still increasing at double the city’s expected population growth of about 2.2 per cent.
He sees a slow down in demand for the food bank as an indication the local economy is absorbing more people back into the workforce.
Although many former energy sector workers have either left central Alberta or are still looking for work, Scaife said, “I think the economy is better now than it was five years ago…. It’s a good sign.”
He’s excited about the first “giving” event of the season, which will be presented Saturday by the Central Music Festival.
The 50th anniversary of Woodstock is being celebrated with a local Foodstock! festival that kicks off with a 5 p.m. barbecue in the Elks Lodge parking lot (6315 Horn St.)
Supporters can secure a meal from the Red Deer Food Bank barbecue crew with a donation of cash or food. They can also learn how to stilt walk, clown around with Sparkles and take in Kyle Key’s magic act.
Organizers, who are aiming to raise at least $5,000 for the food bank, will continue fundraising inside the Elk Lodge at a ticketed 7 p.m. benefit concert featuring West Coast singer/songwriter David Essig, Laurelle, Rob Lamonica and Nine Second Ride.
All profits will go to meet food bank needs.
Admission to the “mini-festival” is $30 in advance, or $35 at the door. Kids 12 and under are admitted free with an adult. For more information, visit www.centralmusicfest.com.
Other upcoming food bank events are: the Mormon Helping Hands food drive on Sept. 28, the Sky Wings Aviation flight and food drive on Sept. 29 at the Red Deer Airport, a donation drive at the Oct. 11 Red Deer Rebels hockey game, and the Stuff-A-Bus event at Parkland Mall from Nov. 28 to 30.