Edmonton’s Meals Financial institution prepares for a busy Christmas season as demand rises

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Jeff Labine

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11/19/202019th November 2020Read for 3 minutes Join the conversation A volunteer pushes a cart full of donations as Can Man Dan, Dan Johnstone, right, begins his 10th year brave the cold temperatures to raise food and funds for the mission of Edmonton's Food Bank in the Belmont Sobeys on Thursday November 19th, 2020. A volunteer pushes a cart full of donations as Can Man Dan, Dan Johnstone, right, begins his 10th year brave the cold temperatures to raise food and funds for the mission of Edmonton’s Food Bank in the Belmont Sobeys on Thursday November 19th, 2020. Photo by Ed Kaiser /Postal media

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Edmonton’s Food Bank is ramped up to meet greater demand as the holiday season approaches and dollars begin to peak.

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A number of fundraisers were announced this week in support of the Chalkboard, including the 10th Annual Sleeping In The Cold Campaign and the 18th Annual Wheels of Christmas Event. The Tafel and other nonprofits have spoken out on the surge in demand following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March.

Edmonton Food Bank spokeswoman Tamisan Bencz-Knight said the number of people using their programs has increased slightly since September, but won’t have a full picture of the magnitude of the increase until around December. She said about 19,500 people are currently using the blackboard per month, but they expect this to increase.

“The food banks are going into our festive campaign so we’re trying to keep building up those food reserves because we usually don’t have any more events in January (and it’s) really quiet,” she said. “We bought long-life food (with federal money). All of the money we got from the Feds went straight to Essen to make sure we had the resources. In Edmonton we have to allow six to eight weeks for large shipments from the east. We wanted to make sure that we definitely had food available at the beginning of the Christmas season. “

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Bencz-Knight said the tablet was already prepared for a rough year before the pandemic broke out due to Alberta’s troubled economy. In March alone, more than 25,000 people asked for help, 18 percent more than in the previous year. From January to September, more than 46,000 people received food baskets.

She said demand flattened in May and June, which allowed the organization to catch its breath and prepare for the months ahead.

Susan Padget, a resource development assistant at the food bank, said a number of new faces had come to seek help, including former donors.

“We have had people who have never had trouble paying bills (and) they have worked all their adult lives and now their hours are being cut or they are losing their jobs,” she said. “You can’t make ends meet. They have mortgage payments, they have bills to settle, and by the time they finish they have no more money to buy food. “

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Padget said at the moment the grocery bank’s shelves are full, just with a certain lack of soups and peanut butter. She said the organization made a major purchase earlier this year to meet growing demand.

This purchase was supported by the annual Edmonton Food Drive, which ran from September through October.

Food Drive spokeswoman Chantelle McMullin said they need to change the way the fundraiser is run this year because of the pandemic, and mainly move it to online. She said they raised $ 17,000 in cash, a first for the ride and no groceries.

Last year the action raised £ 250,000 of groceries.

McMullin said next year she hoped they could raise both cash and groceries.

Those who wish to donate to the chalkboard can do so by visiting their website or taking non-perishable groceries to a major grocery store or the Edmonton City Fire Department.

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