The City’s student food bank at Red Deer College is facing increasing demand at the same time that it is having more difficulty raising funds.
“Every year usage has almost tripled,” says Steven Kwasny, president of the Red Deer College Students’ Association, which maintains the food bank for students in need. “We’re definitely seeing a big increase in usage. In 2007 we served 86 people, this year we’re up around 250. In large part I attribute that to the economic downtown, and while that seems to be getting better, it’s definitely affected students. It’s still really hard to find good jobs for students. That too, seems to be getting better, but it is still difficult.”
Kwasny adds, “The cost of going to school keeps increasing, although the college has tried hard to maintain a level cost, and more people, again probably due to the economic situation, are coming back to school. They’re often the ones who need help, they can’t go to their parents. Sometimes they’re single parents themselves and need the extra help.
“We’ve also found it more difficult to get more donations for the food bank. When we started out we had about $5,500 in donations a year and could run the food bank with that. Now we get donations of about $6,000 a year, but because of increased demand need about $12,000 to run it. You have to be a student here to get food from us and we try to work closely with the Red Deer Food Bank and help each other out when we can. They’ve been very generous and helped immensely.”
Over at the Red Deer and District Food Bank Executive Director Fred Scaife says, “We understand that some students just don’t have enough money to make it, and we help the student food bank anyway we can. It really means a lot to us to help and we are proud to help them, and anybody else in Central Alberta, and it’s simplified a bit because we act as a distribution centre for several area groups. It’s our job to make sure everybody gets fed.”
The Red Deer and District Food Bank is facing the same problems as the one on campus.
“As is often the case we’re food rich and cash poor,” says Scaife. “We’re always looking for more cash (which buys fresh food). We’ve had a 20 per cent increase this year, compared to an 80 per cent increase last year, but that’s a 100 per cent increase in the last 24 months. However we’re in relatively good shape with two recent food drives (including one over Halloween) expected to bring in 25,000 pounds of food.”