Desperate times

By Kassidy Christensen

March 2, 2017 12:00 AM

THE CUPBOARDS ARE BARE Maj. Lisa O'Doherty, community ministries officer with the Salvation Army Lloydminster, is calling out to the community to help refill the food bank's shelves. KASSIDY CHRISTENSEN LLS PHOTO

Food bank is seeing one new family looking for help per day

The Salvation Army Food Bank is calling out to Lloydminster to help refill its shelves after a year that’s seen at least one new family per day looking for food.
On average, 30 families per week—with roughly two thirds of the total families being children—were accessing food bank services in 2016, according to Maj. Lisa O’Doherty, community ministries officer with the Salvation Army Lloydminster.
“We have at least one new family every day that we’re open, which has been ongoing for probably the last year.” O’Doherty said.
The increased number of families visiting the food bank is due to the downturn in the economy, she said.
“(For) a lot of people their benefits have now run out, so their EI (employment insurance) benefits have run out, people are still getting hours cut back, people are still getting laid off.”
The number of families accessing the food bank in a two-month span has almost doubled since 2015.
O’Doherty reported 304 families were accessing their services in January and February of 2017, up from 168 in January and February of 2015.
The numbers for 2016 were close to that of 2017, but the difference this year is less food.
“November/December (2016) was when our larger food drives from various organizations happened and there was less that came in, I think, for all of those. So now we’re getting low on food earlier in the year than we normally would,” O’Doherty said.
The average amount of food given to one average family of three, is about 75 lbs.
Considering, on average, 30 families go to the food bank per week—calculated from data collected between January through December of 2016—and the average three-person family receives 75 lbs. of food, roughly 2,500 lbs. of food is what goes out per week, O’Doherty explained. 
Even though the average is a family of three, O’Doherty said they do get a lot of large families.
“That’s probably one of the reasons we see the food going out so quickly is because we have a lot of families with (a) number of children,” she said.
Out of the 30 families visiting the food bank each week, O’Doherty said on average 20 per cent of visitors are new and 80 per cent are return families.
O’Doherty explained the general policy is families are allowed to access the food bank once every three months, however, “We take every case on a case-by-case basis.
A program started in the fall through the Salvation Army Food Bank was Kids Kits, O’Doherty explained.
“For the very first time we did get some grant money last year for our Kids Kits,” she said.
“Every weekend through the public school board we send 50 bags of food home with 50 individual children so they have food for the weekend for themselves.”
The decision is left to the teachers to identify the 50 students in need, and O’Doherty said they could provide for more than 50 children.
As the only official food bank in Lloydminster, according to O’Doherty, they generally are wholly dependent on the community to donate to the food bank.
Some items identified by the food bank that are of higher need include: canned vegetables, soups, one-litre juices and juice boxes, kids’ lunch snacks, canned ravioli or Alpha-getti, macaroni and cheese, cereal, rice, diapers especially in sizes 4, 5 and 6, feminine hygiene products, shampoo and conditioner and toothbrushes.
Other items listed include: canned meat and fish,, pasta sauce, pasta pancake mix, pancake syrup, canned fruit and peanut butter.
To get people involved with collecting food or raising donations, O’Doherty said there is a way to go that often works.
“I find one of the big things that goes over well is if individuals challenge other individuals, or departments challenge other departments … that brings an element of fun and challenge in to what is otherwise a very saddening endeavor,” she said.
O’Doherty extended her thanks to the community for its support, and said, “Without the community we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”
For those looking to donate to the food bank, O’Doherty said drop offs can be done during the hours of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Thursday, closed for lunch from noon to 1 p.m., and on Friday’s from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., closed for lunch.
If people need help from the food bank, O’Doherty said to call 780-875-9166 to make an appointment.

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