Red Deer food bank demand skyrockets
Executive director says they have to shut phones off after an hour as requests overwhelming
Food banks across Alberta are seeing more people come through their doors as more and more people find themselves out of work.
The Red Deer food bank seems to be feeling the effects particularly hard, with some staggering numbers.
"There's been some days that we've shut the phone line off after it's been on for only an hour," Fred Scaife, the executive director, tells CBC News.
The agency shared statistics comparing February 2015 with February 2016.
The agency served 311 single adults in 2015. One year later, that number had jumped by 226 per cent to 1,014.
The other categories are no more encouraging.
The number of hampers given out went from 229 to 695.
The number of children served shot up from 202 to 621 — an increase of 207 per cent.
The number of families who received help went from 93 to 324. That is an increase of 248 per cent.
"They're coming in droves," Scaife said.
Volunteers fill boxes and hamper for the following day. Appointments are taken by phone.
Scaife says once they are out, the phones are turned off.
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Stephanie Rigby is the executive director at Alberta Food Banks, which works with 66 food banks in the province.
She says a lot of staff and volunteers are feeling quite anxious right now.
"They worry about how much food is going to be available by donations over the next months because as we know, food banks are not top of mind this year," Rigby tells CBC News.
So she's hoping Albertans will step up and help out, where they can.
Scaife says seeing the faces of his clients, can sometimes be difficult.
"This is not a picnic coming here," he said.
"I look in the eyes of these people coming here and the … the level of shame, desperation, fear, anger anxiety, everything. It is just written right across their faces and that's a terrible way to be so I hope they don't have to be that way for very long."
He said his agency is looking at adjusting the size of the hampers they hand out, so that they can serve more families.