Economy puts strain on food banks


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July 28, 2015 8:15 AM

Due to the ongoing struggle with the Alberta economy many food banks across the province are having a difficult time keeping up with the increased demand for their services. According to a news release from Alberta Food Banks, the organization has moved 78 pallets of food to 24 food banks across the province in addition to the six transport trailers of food distributed to larger food banks.

The Lloydminster Salvation Army Family Care Centre and Food Bank has also seen a spike in recent months with many new families having to rely on its services.

“We are busy, which is expected with the way that the economy is at this moment,” said Shannon Weinberger, head of the local food bank. “We’ve definitely seen an increase. An increase of new families that we’ve never seen before.”

Though the food bank doesn’t yet have any numbers or hard statistics, she says the regular users have remained stable, but the spike in new users since January has been considerable and has only increased in the last few months. Because of the added strain, the food bank is now running low on food again, much faster than Weinberger expected, but fortunately it hasn’t had to request additional help from Alberta Food Banks like in many other communities.

Fundraisers like the RCMP’s “Stuff a Cruiser” campaign, where the police parked cruisers in front of various local grocery stores last May and encouraged people to load them with non-perishables, are a great help, but there are no more food drives or or fundraisers scheduled until the fall.

“We are part of Alberta Food Banks and Food Banks Canada, so when either one does a big drive on either food or cash, we do get a part of that,” Weinberger said. “It’s a request thing, but my goal right now is not to request from them if our community can still keep supporting us, which is a wonderful thing.”

She says Lloydminster is an especially generous community when it comes to charity and there are groups who regularly contribute all year round, “which is wonderful and much needed,” but general donations drop in the summer and winter months.

If anyone would like to pitch in and ease some of the stress on the food bank’s supplies they can drop donations off at the Salvation Army Community Church between 9 a.m. and noon. There are also donation bins at the Superstore and Safeway or they can simply call the church at 780-875-9166 and arrange a drop off time that is convenient.

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