The Red Deer Food Bank visits have increased by about 40 per cent over the past six months, says the organization’s executive director.
“We’re a food bank that supports the local community, but we also provide food stock to about 23 other food banks and 30 agencies in the community,” Mitch Thomson said Friday.
Nationwide, food bank visits have increased by more than 20 per cent since 2019, according to a recent report by Food Banks Canada.
One-third of food bank clients across the country are children and single-person households, which remains the most common household type accessing food banks, according to the report.
“Food banks located in larger urban centres – 100,000 people or more – were significantly more likely to see massive increases in need, with 28 per cent of food banks in these areas seeing visits more than double compared to 2019,” the report said.
In Red Deer, keeping up with the rising demand is challenging, said Thomson.
“Pre-COVID, we had a few hundred volunteers that were regularly in our facility. Our volunteer numbers are down by half at this point,” he said.
“The community has been very gracious in giving and we can’t be anything but incredibly thankful. But there are some common food stocks that we’ve struggled to maintain to provide. Things like canned fruit, Kraft Dinner and some of those foods that in some cases are healthy and needed for diet, but also those comfort foods that keep people going and that children like.”
Thomson said the food bank is expected to get busy soon, with Christmas right around the corner.
“From the community giving, we receive about 70 per cent of the food for the year over the next little while generally speaking. By mid-year we’re depleted significantly and with the greater demand, we’re seeing our shelves are a lot emptier than they have been,” he said.
“We’re ramping up, but we know we’ve got a bit of a long road.”
People can donate food at the Red Deer Food Bank building (7429 49 Ave.) or at participating grocery stores. People can also make donations online at www.reddeerfoodbank.com.
“We’re thankful for anything people give and there’s always volunteer opportunities for individuals, families and groups,” he said.