Airdrie food bank use has 'skyrocketed'

Staff at the Airdrie Food Bank say they have seen a record number of people accessing their food hamper program in recent weeks.

'We have doubled, and then doubled again, our use since 2012,' says executive director

Airdrie Food Bank executive director Lori McRitchie says despite other signs of an economic recovery, demand is on the rise at the food bank. (CBC)

Staff at the Airdrie Food Bank say they have seen a record number of people accessing their food hamper program in recent weeks.

The food bank gave out a record 265 food hampers to people in the Airdrie area in November, and executive director Lori McRitchie says they're on pace to match that demand in December.

"Our use has skyrocketed, which is very unusual because we were seeing a levelling and thought a recovery is happening," she said.

"But now things are growing and the need is rising again."

McRitchie says the lingering impact of the recession, coupled with continued population growth in Airdrie is fueling the increased the demand.

"We have doubled, and then doubled again, our use since 2012," she said.

"The number of people in our communities that are needing our help has been surprising and it has increased drastically."

But the people of Airdrie and the wider area are stepping up the meet the demand, McRitchie says.

"The people of Airdrie really do reach out and help each other. They are truly neighbours who help neighbours," she said.

Jessie Thompson started turning to the Airdrie Food Bank for help after an illness in the family and the loss of her job. (CBC)

Jessie Thompson started coming to the Airdrie Food Bank about a year ago after she stepped in to care for an ailing relative and also lost her job.

"My dad was in the hospital, so I took care of all his bills and stuff, so it's been a little tough getting food," she said.

"It's pretty good because it's enough to hold down the fort until everything's back up and running."

McRitchie says nearly half of the recent hamper recipients were families with children.

"We see working families who just don't make enough money to pay the bills," she said.

The food bank recently expanded its services by offering bagged lunches for school children. The Fuel for Kids program now provides lunches for 200 kids per week.

"Kids are hungry in schools. We don't want to have any hungry kids in our community," McRitchie said.

Clarifications

  • An earlier version of this story said the Fuel for Kids program provided lunches for 450 kids per week, when the program actually provides 200. The 450 number includes other items and programs.
    Dec 13, 2017 4:47 PM MT