Food Bank hard pressed by surge in demand

Red Deer Food Bank served a whopping 64 per cent more people in March than the same month in 2008.

As a result of an increase of 64 per cent in the number clients that utilized the Red Deer Food Bank last month over March

Red Deer Food Bank served a whopping 64 per cent more people in March than the same month in 2008.

The number of adults receiving food assistance in March compared with the same month last year increased to 782 from 458, and children increased to 514, from 331.

The food bank gave out 561 food hampers last month, compared with 368 last year.

“When I looked at our figures for March, I was stunned,” executive director Fred Scaife said on Tuesday.

“It’s nuts and I’m really, really concerned that this is not slowing down this month at all. Typically in March, April, we should be seeing a bit of a downturn in usage and it’s just not happening.”

Typically, demand at the food bank increases in January and February when people deal with more or higher bills, he said.

To deal with the surge, construction on a second counter started on Monday at the food bank for handing out food hampers.

“Our biggest problem is just the sheer volume, so what we’re doing is restructuring our client service area.”

“We used to have one line only for passing the boxes of food out to people. We’ve created two lines now.”

Scaife said people don’t want to be here in the first place, and to make them wait longer than half an hour in a line is difficult.

At one point in March, people were lined up outside the food bank doors, something staff have never seen before.

An income guideline has been in place for a year that limits single hamper recipients to an annual salary of $19,000 or $368 a week. The cutoff for a family of two is $24,000. A family of five can earn up to $40,500.

When people come in who earn more money, they are given one hamper because something has forced them to come. But they must seek other alternatives in the future, he said.

The food bank may also look at limiting how many food hampers a single person can get.

“There are a number of organizations in the city and places that anyone can go and get a free meal. I would rather see a single person go to a soup kitchen to get fed than have an entire family go to a soup kitchen and get fed.”

Food supplies in the warehouse are expected to shrink quickly at a time when regular donors are giving less, Scaife said.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘Ambulance dispatch should be kept local,’ says Red Deer mayor

Four Alberta mayors meet with Minister of Health on Thursday

Central zone down to 19 active COVID-19 cases on Thursday

Provincially, 158 new COVID-19 cases were identified

Empty Red Deer hotels could be purchased to create more affordable housing

City and its housing partners will be applying for a new federal program to reduce homelessness

As Agri-Trade neared exhibitors had second thoughts

Agricultural show cancelled rather than fall short of expectations

Liberals vow wage-subsidy extension to 2021, revamp of EI system in throne speech

Canadian labour market was hammered by pandemic, when lockdowns in the spring led to a loss of 3 million jobs

Davis, Lakers beat Nuggets to take 3-1 lead in West finals

Davis, Lakers beat Nuggets to take 3-1 lead in West finals

Heat get chance Friday to oust Celtics, reach NBA Finals

Heat get chance Friday to oust Celtics, reach NBA Finals

Russian Olympic biathlon champion loses Sochi doping case

Russian Olympic biathlon champion loses Sochi doping case

Raptors coach Nurse says he needs to ‘decompress’ from this season

Raptors coach Nurse says he needs to ‘decompress’ from this season

Canadian rookie receiver Claypool is impressing early with Pittsburgh Steelers

Canadian rookie receiver Claypool is impressing early with Pittsburgh Steelers

Iditarod preps for any scenario as 2021 race plans proceed

Iditarod preps for any scenario as 2021 race plans proceed

Pac-12 to kick off 7-game football season in early November

Pac-12 to kick off 7-game football season in early November

Penguins trade 2-time Cup winner Hornqvist to Panthers

Penguins trade 2-time Cup winner Hornqvist to Panthers

Most Read