The Edmonton Meals Financial institution sees a dramatic enhance in demand
Edmonton Food Bank is seeing a dramatic increase in the number of people in need of food baskets, says executive director Marjorie Bencz.
Almost 21,000 people needed food baskets that July, a 50 percent increase from the nearly 14,000 people who needed food baskets in July 2015.
The board also has a better idea of who is using the program after compiling the results of a survey of 500 users. The survey found the following:
- Almost 20 percent more users make less than $ 25,000 a year.
- About 45 percent of unemployed users have been unemployed for more than three years.
- Almost 60 percent of the employed work part-time, occasional or seasonal work.
Almost 31 percent of respondents were 50 to 65 years old, an increase from 23 percent in 2015
“This group is so marginalized and chronically unemployed,” said Bencz.
Almost half of the respondents receive income support from the province, 18.5 percent receive income support for the severely disabled.
Those numbers are also up from 2015, when 36 percent of respondents received income support and 13 percent received AISH.
Both groups need more help from the province to pay their rent and food bills, Bencz said.
Following the survey was published in 2015, the food bank launched Beyond Food, a program to help clients improve English and math, job search assistance such as resumes, interview skills, security tickets, first aid training, and budgeting.
“In the survey, 75 percent of people said they weren’t connected to any service other than the board,” said program manager David Berger.
Although the program’s success is difficult to measure, “we hear anecdotal from people who get jobs by working with us,” said Berger.