Airdrie's food bank has extended its hours to keep up with demand, sometimes helping keep food on the table for former donors.

The city north of Calgary has seen the numbers of hampers given out between January and September increase 59 per cent over last year, feeding nearly 5,500 adults and children.

"Our numbers of first-time users have just risen through the roof," said executive director Lori McRitchie. "I mean, these are people that had substantial jobs – you know, management positions or labourer positions – that were making a lot of money."

Food bank volunteer

Volunteer Wayne Federation says he's seen the increase demand for food in Airdrie. (CBC)

Many adults say they've donated to the food bank in the past, never thinking they would one day be a user, said McRitchie.

Airdrie Food Bank, which operates with 160 volunteers, has extended its hours to keep up.

"I've noticed an increase in the number of clients we get every day. I notice that our shelves are depleting and we need more food," said volunteer Wayne Federation. 

"It's the kids that we're concerned about"

Janet Swampy, from the Maskwacis First Nation north of Red Deer, was visiting the Airdrie Food Bank on Thursday to learn how to operate under growing need.

Her community's food bank feeds 800 people and is also facing increasing demands.

"Unless we see a turnaround in our economics, we're going to continue to see an increase," Swampy said. "What we're hoping to do with that is to make sure that our kids are taken care of because – bottom line – it's the kids that we're concerned about, and making sure that our kids are not hungry."

Some 79,293 people used food banks in Alberta in 2016, according to Food Banks Canada's annual HungerCount report. That's twice as many, on a per-capita basis, than in 2008.