Food bank continues to face severe cash shortage

  • Feb. 25, 2015 4:09 p.m.

Facing the year with a severe cash shortfall, staff at the Red Deer Food Bank are hoping that spreading the word about the inner workings of the organization will help to spur donations.

YouTube postings, with the help of videographer Roger Bakes, are starting to be posted on a regular basis, said Fred Scaife, executive director.

“Typically, coming out of the Christmas season we get so much in donations during those last six to eight weeks of the year, that quite often at the beginning of the New Year we are sitting with our budget in hand – and that’s not a bad place to be. But the last couple of years, we haven’t had that,” he said.

“Last year, we did not go into the New Year with our budget in hand – we had a shortfall of close to $200,000,” he said. “And this year, it’s even worse than that.

“Our forecasted budget for 2015 is $550,000. Currently, we have a grand total of just south of $200,000.

“It’s a serious cash crunch, and it doesn’t include some projects that we’ve been trying to launch for a couple of years,” he said. “It takes away the energy to launch these capital projects, and we have to focus basically on keeping the doors open which is what we are doing right now.”

Part of the problem is that there aren’t any major fundraising drives – cash-wise – until the fall. There are food gathering initiatives, but few specific times where cash is the focus. “Those keep the food in the house – we are good with food.”

Scaife said the food bank has gone through some tough times over the 18 years he has worked there, but this about the worst it’s ever been, he said.

“Our average operating expense per month runs at about $35,000 – we’re not looking at a lot of months there,” he added, referring to the current bank balance.

There have also been some cuts to staff – Scaife said a couple of jobs were cut and one person went to part time.

Meanwhile, Scaife is focusing on further educating the public about the food bank in general.

“One of the things we hope to accomplish with this video series – which is going to be a weekly thing – is we are going to give people a deeper insight into what we do here,” he said. “I think there’s a disconnect from a misunderstanding of what we do.”

Scaife said the series will explore day-to-day operations, staff, volunteers and the roles and contributions of some donors as well. Examples would include businesses who have stepped forward to help in key ways.

“We need to get these kinds of messages out there to demonstrate to the business community what we are doing here,” he said.

“I’ve always believed that everybody wants to give – everybody wants to help. They just need to know who and why.

“I know this community supports us. It’s not from a lack of support that we don’t have money right now; it’s from a lack of understanding the need.”

For more information about the Red Deer Food Bank, call 403-346-1505.