Demand for Edmonton’s Meals Financial institution surged to new heights

Edmonton’s Food Bank says it simply can’t keep up with the demand for hampers, with shelves staying bare and the need for donations continuing.

While usage data for December is still being finalized, a food bank representative told CTV News Edmonton that between 30,000 to 35,000 people per month were relying on the hamper program for food in September and October.

That tally does not include other programming offered by the food bank, like support to soup kitchens and shelters.

“We have over 65 depots all throughout Edmonton, they’re all at capacity, and we’ve been really struggling to put food on people’s tables,” said Marjorie Bencz, executive director, adding some programs have seen almost double demand this year.

“The food is coming in and leaving so quickly,” she said, adding the six-day stuff A Bus Campaign food lasted only three days.

Bencz said the food bank had a budget of $2 million for food last year. As it stands now, the food bank spent an extra million dollars and still needs more supplies to help everyone.

“This time of year, the food bank should be full of food. You can see empty shelves everywhere you look,” she added. “It’s been a challenge because the food is going out so almost.”

“We had great volunteer support throughout the last year and people really rallied to help us, but the challenge we are having is that we are seeing so many more people needing our services.”

Advocate Brad Lafortune with Public Interest Alberta says there needs to be more targeted affordability measures by both the provincial and federal governments to ensure those who are living beneath the poverty line can afford the basics.

“It should serve as a major wake-up call to decision makers, governments, that we can’t keep expecting food banks and not-for-profits and charities to make up for where governments need to be doing more when it comes to food security,” Lafortune said.

The UCP government has previously said affordability measures are coming, including $100 payments over six months for seniors, Albertans on support programs like AISH, and some families with children under 18.

Further details on those payments are expected in the coming weeks.

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