The Airdrie Food Bank says it saw a record number of people coming to them for help last year, and many believe that's linked to the downturn in the oil patch.

There was a 77 per cent increase in clients during the last half of 2015, according to food bank general manager Quinn Donaldson.

"We couldn't believe the numbers we were seeing for the first while. They seemed to keep growing," Donaldson said.

Airdrie Food Bank shelves

The shelves remain stocked, in large part because of community donations. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

Staff served more than 26,000 people last year, nearly half of them children, in what amounted to the busiest year in the food bank's history.

"I don't know where we'd be without [them], we'd be really hurting," says Rhonda Kish, who works in retail along with her son, Zach Elder.

"A lot of our shifts are getting cut," says Zach, who says business has taken a hit thanks to the plunging price of oil.

Donaldson says most of their clients need short term help, and they all come from different backgrounds.

"We're learning that there's a lot of people out there looking for work and it's really hard to find work right now."

Staff say numbers are already up in 2016, but they aren't turning anyone away, in large part because of community support.

With files from the CBC’s Dave Gilson