Parkland Food Bank seeing rising number of users

Parkland Food Bank says the number of food hampers given away has over tripled in recent years.

Parkland County Food Bank says an annual report will show a continued increase of usage.

Food Banks Canada issues its Hunger Report every February for its groups to record a snapshot of usage in the month of March. This month is chosen as the study period because it is an unexceptional month, without predictable high or low use patterns.

The Executive Director of Parkland’s Food Bank, Sheri Ratsoy, says the number of food hampers they give away in a year has over tripled. 

“Last year was over 16,000 hampers that we gave out, compared to maybe 4,000 hampers a couple of years ago,” she said.

She believes the government failing to address these issues, and the economic downturn over the past few years have led to this rise. 

She says a major change that needs to happen is to reduce the number of children relying on these services. In 2018, children made-up 38% of Parkland County Food Bank users, most coming from single parent homes. Ratsoy says better childcare options and child-tax benefits would help the issue.

She estimated that 13% of families that visited in 2018 had no employment at all. 

Ratsoy says it’s important to donate year-round, instead of just on special holidays.

“We’re getting to the point where we more-and-more need to purchase as we need. That way we can make sure we only have food stored on-hand that we need right away; as opposed to getting donations at Christmastime and needing to make that food last all year long,” she said.

She says donating money, volunteering, and community advocacy are the best way to help the cause.

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