Line-ups at the Red Deer and District Food Bank continue as the demand remains high.
“The need is great at the food bank right now,” said Executive Director Fred Scaife. “Already this year, we have put out close to 7,000 food hampers and at this time last year it was close to 6,000. Everyday we have line-ups and we have a lot of people coming in.”
Scaife said three major events last week helped the need immensely but they still need financial donations to ensure they can fully-function until July of next year.
“About three weeks ago I had to purchase food,” he said. “We purchase food year-round, but there were things I purchased on this big spending spree that I have never purchased like pasta. We have never had to purchase pasta or canned beans and I had to buy them by the pallet in order to meet the demand.”
Scaife said even though the economy is recovering, the ripple effect of that will not hit the food bank for another year.
“When there is a downturn in the economy, it is instantaneous at our door,” he said. “We see the impact immediately and we have more people coming in than usual. When we are in recovery, it takes anywhere from 12-18 months for it to finally start to stabilize at the food bank. We are still in that phase and I think we are looking at about another 12 months.”
The food bank’s partnerships throughout the community have allowed donations to flow, Scaife added.
“Within this last week, we have had three incredibly successful major events starting with the Mormon Helping Hands Food Drive, which brought in thousands of pounds of food,” he said. “We had the Stantec Community BBQ downtown, and that provided us with thousands of pounds of food again. We just had Operation Food Lift, where our cash take was around $10,000.
“All of that is really significant for us because we are on the cusp of donations starting to pick up. We are starting to enter into the season where we receive a lot more stuff.”
Scaife said the final quarter of the year is typically when the food bank takes in 70% of their budget, which he estimates to be around $400,000 this year.
“Don’t forget about us. Just because we are doing okay today, doesn’t mean we are going to be doing okay in March. With the help of community and once we get that warehouse full – we will be okay,” he said.