Fort McMurray food bank tightening belt as demand exceeds supply

The food bank in Fort McMurray is struggling to meet growing demand as the oilsands-based economy continues to flounder.

Wood Buffalo Food Bank slims down food hampers to meet demand

Food bank director Arianna Johnson said she is confident the city will overcome the tough times brought by the plunge in oil prices. (Courtesy of Wood Buffalo Food Bank)

The food bank in Fort McMurray is struggling to meet growing demand as the oilsands-based economy continues to flounder.

"We've seen job lay-offs and certainly shifting and transitioning in the community ... draws heavily on our non-profit society, but first and foremost it's got to be our food bank," said Mayor Melissa Blake.

"It's hugely concerning that we've had the people in our community affected as they have been by the sustained low oil pricing."

The food bank is seeing 70 per cent more visitors this year over last.

In 2014, the food bank handed out 2,300 hampers, but by the end of this year, staff project the number of hampers for 2015 to reach 4,000.

That means that many people who used to donate money or goods to the bank are now clients which increases demand while shrinking donations.

"It just makes us worry that we're going to have to work that much harder to raise the funds necessary because as need goes up, our expense goes up whereas the donor base is going down,"  said executive director Arianna Johnson.

In response the food bank is shrinking the size of hampers in order to meet demand,  she said.

"We certainly are having to do a lot of things to stretch our food stocks further and make sure that we have enough food to give some to everybody," Johnson said.

She hopes the Christmas fundraising season will help.

"Coming into the fall and the Christmas season of course, our food stocks increase drastically because that's when the majority of our food drives are."

Johnson said she has confidence that people in Fort McMurray will survive the crisis.

"We know how isolated we are and therefore we  know we have to take care of each other," she said. "We are a village that makes sure nobody goes without."

(Wood Buffalo Food Bank)
The food bank hamper offered clients this year is considerably smaller than what was offered in 2014. (Wood Buffalo Food Bank)

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