The Red Deer Food Bank says it's struggling to keep up with demand, even as Alberta's economy rebounds. 

The food bank's executive director, Fred Scaife, said demand for hampers is up by 15 per cent this year. And, for the first time in 20 years, he's had to use donated cash to buy food such as pasta, rice and dry soup.

"Here in central Alberta, a lot of the food banks are dealing with the same kind of numbers that we are," he said. 

"In the same time frame last year up until this point, we'd given out 6,020 hampers, and so far this year we've given out 6,986 — and that's a year-to-date number. And the surrounding food banks, whether it be Lacombe, Ponoka or all the other ones that we deal with, they're dealing with the same kind of percentages."

Not keeping pace

Scaife said although demand isn't escalating as quickly as it was last year, the amount of donations coming in are not keeping pace with the need. 

He said using cash to purchase food cuts into the food bank's operating budget. 

Scaife doesn't anticipate demand dropping for another year.

The food bank is hoping to stock up on donations this weekend as it hosts a fundraiser called Operation Foodlift at the Red Deer Airport on Sunday. 

With files from Jennifer Lee