Food banks across the province are feeling the pressure from an ever-slowing economy, with more and more Albertans losing their jobs and donations continuing to slow down.
“No one ever expected that [the economy] would crash the way it did,” manager of the Taber Food Bank Kathy Boersma said.
Boersma said the Taber Food Bank has seen a 35 per cent increase in clients since January. She said the sudden crash in oil prices has been felt throughout the province.
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“There’s been a lot more layoffs than we expected in this area,” Boersma said. “Just people not being able to find work…now the savings are gone, the RESPs are gone, and now they are having to come for aid.”
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The need for help is being felt in the City of Lethbridge as well, where the Interfaith Food Bank said they have seen a 25 per cent jump in usage. However, as the demand grows, donations are slowing down.
“We have a lot more people coming in for help, and we are finding that a lot of the people who are helping us are also having their pockets pinched,” Danielle McIntyre, executive director of the Interfaith Food Bank said. “We are expecting to do more with less, which is something we are used to.”
“We will ride the wave. We tend to have faith in our community and we know that somehow as Albertans, we will come together to make sure that those needs are met.”
One way of collecting more donations in the slower months of the year is the annual Target Hunger campaign on Saturday, June 11. Volunteers will be distributing yellow bags to every household in the city the first week of June, asking residents to fill them up to help local food banks replenish their shelves.
“The most-wanted items are actually printed right on the bag,” McIntyre said. “When you get your bag you can choose from that list, but basically we are looking for those non-perishable canned goods and dry foods that we can store in our warehouse.”
Both the Taber Food Bank and Interfaith Food Bank encourage cash donations that allow the organizations to stretch the dollars donated by buying in bulk.