Red Deer Food Bank volunteer and board member Vince Martin sorts through a donation at the Food Bank on Thursday.

Nightmarish demand forcing food bank to limit hamper clients

Red Deer Food Bank hampers fed a whopping 1,635 men, women and children in February compared to 513 people the same month last year — a 220 per cent increase in demand.

Red Deer Food Bank hampers fed a whopping 1,635 men, women and children in February compared to 513 people the same month last year — a 220 per cent increase in demand.

“I don’t think it gets any more glaring than that. I don’t think there’s a whole lot that needs to be said,” said Food Bank executive director Fred Scaife on Thursday.

“In my nightmares I could not even imagine numbers like the ones I’m looking at today.”

In February, the food bank gave out 695 hampers to serve 1,014 adults and 621 children. In January, 664 hampers fed 938 adults and 532 children.

Scaife said the situation is just getting worse. As of August last year, the food bank saw a 15 per cent increase over 2014, and by the end of December it was almost a 40 per cent increase.

“We’re seeing an increase in families so that means that everybody’s getting hit by this. The economy or whatever is going on out there is not playing any favourites.”

Last month, 324 families were fed, up from 93 families last February.

Many new clients are unaccustomed to being on the receiving end of charity and the look on some of their faces is “sheer terror,” he said.

“We’re talking about people that were potentially donors not even 12 months ago. When you look in the eyes of some of these people, they are in trouble and they know it.”

He said the majority of food bank users are unemployed. The only things on their side right now are the mild winter weather that has kept utility costs low and they aren’t facing extra costs that go along with the start of a new school year.

As more people pour into the food bank, he said staff must limit the number of hamper clients they can assist on a daily basis. In the future the amount of food going into hampers may have to be reduced, which has happened at times in the past when needed, he said.

Scaife was confident that Red Deerians will step up with donations to meet the needs of food bank clients.

“The city, in 18 years, has never turned me down when I say we need some food. They have never said no to us and they have never disappointed us. They’ve done it time and time again.”

But more volunteers willing to work at the food bank would be helpful to keep up with demand, Scaife said.

“We’re very efficient and well versed in what we do so it’s just the amount, the sheer volume, we’re trying to deal with. It’s bad.”

Red Deer Food Bank is holding its first fundraising barbecue of the season on March 12, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 4 Wheel Parts in Gasoline Alley, at 342 Laura Ave.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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

Just Posted

Fatal collision on Highway 11 west of Red Deer

Westbound lanes closed on Highway 11

Red Deer Justice Film Festival returns this week for 12th year

A collection of films focusing on different global issues will be screened… Continue reading

Women of Excellence nominations close next week

The deadline for the 2020 Women of Excellence Gala is only a… Continue reading

Canada prepares as WHO decides whether to declare global coronavirus emergency

Canadian public health agencies are ramping up preparations to deal with the… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Jan. 22 Downtown House Senior Center (5414 43 St.) in Red Deer… Continue reading

CFL to stage Toronto-Saskatchewan regular-season contest in Halifax

The CFL is returning to Halifax. A CFL source says the league… Continue reading

Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris closes in on White’s X Games medal record

Mark McMorris is on the verge of Winter X Games history. Winning… Continue reading

Aerosmith drummer loses bid to rejoin band for Grammy honours

BOSTON — A judge has told Aerosmith’s drummer Joey Kramer to dream… Continue reading

Canadian superstars Shawn Mendes and Drake among nominees at the Grammys

TORONTO — From Shawn Mendes to Drake, the line-up of Canadian nominees… Continue reading

Gardening: Purchase seeds that fit your values and budget

Spring is only a few months away and it is time to… Continue reading

Ottawa pledges to match funds raised for families of Iran plane crash victims

TORONTO — The federal government promised Wednesday to match all contributions to… Continue reading

Union fined for violating court order in Regina refinery labour dispute

REGINA — A judge has fined a union that represents more than… Continue reading

Most Read