Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the agency expects an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Every new subscription to the Red Deer Advocate includes a $50 donation to the food bank. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

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The community’s most vulnerable members are always in need of a hand, but never more so than at this time of the year.

Christmas is around the corner, and Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the need for donations will rise.

With gathering limits up in the air because of COVID-19, and some traditional seasonal dinners on hold, the food bank anticipates an influx of individuals looking for a holiday meal.

“This year is going to be a very different year, I have a feeling, because of the way COVID-19 has hit everybody so hard. And not just individuals, but businesses and other non-profits,” she said.

Central Albertans can support the food bank and stay informed about their community at the same time. The Red Deer Advocate will donate $50 to the food bank for every new subscription it receives.

Simply call 403-314-4300 or email to learn more about this special offer.

Kolisnyk said that at Christmastime, the needs get quite specific at the food bank. Turkeys become a high priority, so the agency can provide a healthy, fulsome dinner for folks in need as part of its special Christmas hampers.

“For Christmas, we graciously accept turkeys and the fixings that go with turkeys,” she said.

“If people aren’t able to gather, we may have more households coming to get a dinner for their family,” Kolisnyk said.

The food bank’s cupboards are mostly stocked right now, but as the year winds down, the needs start to quickly ramp up, especially in February and March.

“The bills are starting to come in for Christmas, and the heating bills are skyrocketing because it’s cold. It’s a vicious battle, those first three months of the year.”

She said items such as canned vegetables and canned tomatoes are in need these days. The food bank is always accepting donations of kitchen staples, such as canned meat, canned beans, peanut butter, rice, pasta, dry soup and juice boxes.

Kolisnyk said in addition to donated groceries, monetary contributions are appreciated, so the food bank can buy specific items that families might need during these trying times.