Red Deer Food Bank facing cash crunch

Red Deer Food Bank is facing its toughest year ever after cash donations fell short by about $200,000 for 2015.

Red Deer Food Bank is facing its toughest year ever after cash donations fell short by about $200,000 for 2015.

Executive director Fred Scaife said the food bank should have $400,000 to $450,000 in the bank right now for operations. Instead, there’s about $250,000.

“The way we’re sitting right now, we’re going to be good until the end of April, mid-May,” Scaife said on Friday.

“It’s a bad situation we’re in. We need some money.”

Scaife said food donations are still flowing in from the community, but cash donations from businesses started dwindling last fall as oil prices continued dropping.

“I think there was a certain level of nervousness out there and companies were less inclined to give as much as they have in the past.”

When prices tanked, many people connected to or in the oil and gas sector who used to donate $500 to $2,000 closed their wallets, he said.

“They’ve got to think of their own families, right. It’s nice to be nice when you’ve got the money to do that. But in times of uncertainty, you have to start thinking a little bit closer to home and I think many of them did.”

The squeeze comes as more people need the food bank. Over 600 people came in for hampers last month, up about 200 from January 2014.

The number of clients who only need a few fresh items to top up their groceries has also jumped.

Scaife said about 12 people were picking up fresh food when he walked through the client service area on Friday morning.

At the same time of the day and month last year, there would only have been about four.

“Our parking lot is full all the time right now. With the price of oil not rebounding as quick as some had hoped, and rumour of it potentially going back down again, the trucks get bigger and newer in our parking lot.

“If the economic situation doesn’t look much better in March, I’m anticipating it will be an all-time record month.”

Even if the economy starts to improve, it will get worse before it gets better for clients, he said.

The food bank is now down to six paid staff. Two people were laid off at the beginning of the year to reduce operational costs.

“We may look at adjusting our hours of intake.”

However, if there were more people willing to volunteer at the food bank to sort food donations, that could be avoided, he said.

“As long as we’ve got food, we’re open. We might be doing it in the dark. We might be doing it in the cold. And some of us may be underemployed.”

Scaife said he will be knocking on the doors of companies and meeting with local CEOs, many who have helped in the past.

“They might not even realize we’re in the situation we’re in because they have their own realities to deal with. What I have to do is inject myself into their reality.”

All the food bank requires is a little extra effort from the community, he said.

“I’ve been down this road before, not nearly as rough a road by any stretch of the imagination, but I know that if our community is as supportive as they can be, I think that’s all that’s really needed.”

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Coal mining in Rockies. CP photo
Alberta gov’t releases preliminary results from coal mining survey

The provincial government has released the initial results from its coal policy… Continue reading

House sales drop in northwestern B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward)
Central Alberta real estate continues its hot streak

793 residential units sold in central Alberta through April compared with 210 in 2020

A representative for the office of Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kaycee Madu says the new Red Deer drug treatment court is expected to be operational by the middle of 2022. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer drug treatment court expected to be up and running no later than mid-2022

The Government of Alberta expects the new Red Deer drug treatment court… Continue reading

Environment Canada says rain Tuesday evening will turn to snow. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Expect wet snow Tuesday night central Alberta

Heavy wet snow could accumlate with the potential for broken tree branches

FILE - In this Thursday, April 29, 2021 file photo, giant bucket-wheel excavators extract coal at the controversial Garzweiler surface coal mine near Jackerath, west Germany. A report by the International Energy Agency on Tuesday, May 18, 2021 says immediate action is needed to reshape the world’s energy sector in order to meet ambitious climate goals by 2050. This includes ending investments in new coal mines, oil and gas wells. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)
Energy agency: End new fossil fuel supply investments

IEA report sets out 400 steps to transform how energy is produced, transported and used

Red Deer musician Curtis Phagoo is glad the Alberta government is investing $2 million to help the province’s live music industry, but he would have liked the criteria to be expanded, so the money could be used as relief to cover revenue shortfalls. (Contributed photo by Cory Michaud)
Red Deer musicians welcome $2M in grants to help live music, but would have preferred relief program

The money is for future projects and can’t be used for retroactive expenses

Sheffield United’s Daniel Jebbison celebrates after scoring his side’s opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Everton and Sheffield United at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England, Sunday, May 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Alex Pantling/Pool via AP
Canadian teenager Daniel Jebbison turns heads with Premier League goal

Jebbison, 17, is the youngest player in Premier League history to score on his first start in England’s top tier

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Nathalie Emmanuel, left, and Vin Diesel in a scene from “F9.” (Giles Keyte/Universal Pictures via AP)
The blockbuster movie makes a comeback this summer

Last year, summer earnings were $176 million, down 96% from 2019

FILE - In this Feb. 3, 2021, file photo, exile Tibetans use the Olympic Rings as a prop as they hold a street protest against the holding of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, in Dharmsala, India. Groups alleging human-rights abuses in China are calling for a full boycott of the Beijing Olympics, which is sure to ratchet up pressure on the International Olympic Committee, athletes, sponsors, and sports federations. A coalition of activists representing Uyghurs, Tibetans, residents of Hong Kong and others, issued a statement Monday, May 17, 2021 calling for the “full boycott,” eschewing lesser measures like “diplomatic boycotts" and negotiations with the IOC or China. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia, File)
AP Exclusive: Full-blown boycott pushed for Beijing Olympics

AP Exclusive: Full-blown boycott pushed for Beijing Olympics

Canada's Eric Lamaze riding Fine Lady 5 during the CP International competition at the Spruce Meadows Masters in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019. Canada's most decorated show jumper has withdrawn from consideration for the Tokyo Olympics. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canadian show jumper Eric Lamaze withdraws from Tokyo short list

Canadian show jumper Eric Lamaze withdraws from Tokyo short list

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse questions a foul call during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers Monday, April 26, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. Nurse says it was the COVID-19 outbreak in March that spiked his team's chances for a post-season run.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Chris O'Meara
Nurse faces a busy off-season, much busier if Canada qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

Nurse faces a busy off-season, much busier if Canada qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Danielle Goyette speaks to reporters during a press conference in Toronto on Friday, November 10, 2017. Goyette has been named director of player development for the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs and their American Hockey League affiliate. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
Hayley Wickenheiser, Danielle Goyette together again on Toronto Maple Leafs staff

Hayley Wickenheiser, Danielle Goyette together again on Toronto Maple Leafs staff

Most Read