The pandemic is creating an alarming Catch-22 situation for the Red Deer Food Bank: while unemployment is going up in Alberta, food donations are going down.
To help remedy this situation — and follow COVID-19 prevention measures — a major fall food drive is going virtual.
Allison Strate, food drive co-ordinator for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is asking for online donations to ensure the Red Deer Food Bank can meet the increased demand.
“We sincerely hope Red Deer residents will support the virtual food drive the way they have supported our past food drives,” said Strate.
The virtual food drive will run until Oct. 12. Red Deer residents can donate funds online at canadahelps.org or by visiting reddeerfoodbank.com.
According to the Alberta government’s economic forecast, employment is expected to fall by a record seven per cent, while unemployment is expected to climb to 11.6 per cent this year.
And Alberta’s economy is not expected to start recovering until after 2021.
“When COVID first hit, many people lost their jobs and we saw a huge spike in the number of people using the food bank,” said Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank.
“When the federal government instituted the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), usage went down. Now that CERB benefits are running out, food bank usage is starting to climb again.”
More than 10,800 kilograms of food was collected in the 2019 food drives by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Red Deer. Unfortunately, the 2020 spring food drive had to be cancelled due to the pandemic.
“It was a difficult decision … but door-to-door collection of food is not recommended,” explained Strate.
“Over the last year, the Red Deer Food Bank has helped more than 19,000 people — including more than 8,000 children.”
“We’re grateful for the generosity of Red Deer residents and volunteers,” Kolisnyk said. “These food drives have become absolutely crucial for us. So many people have to make ends meet.”