Calgary Food Bank sees 'massive demand spike' even as provincial numbers drop

The head of the Calgary Food Bank says demand just keeps growing, even as the need elsewhere in Alberta is declining.

More single people and single parents turning to food bank for help

The Calgary Foodbank is busier than ever, but province-wide the trend is in the opposite direction.

The Calgary Food Bank says demand just keeps growing, even as new figures show the need elsewhere in Alberta is on the decline.

The annual hunger count by Food Banks Canada shows in March there were 90,000 visits to food banks in Alberta. Provincially, that's down eight per cent over last year.

But it's a much worse situation at the Calgary Food Bank, according to CEO James McAra.

The number of food hampers given out there so far this year is up almost nine per cent over last year.

And there is no sign that trend is softening, said McAra.

Calgary Foodbank CEO James McAra says more single people, and single parents, are coming in for help. (Ellis Choe/CBC)

"The massive demand spike that continues to happen in Calgary, and somewhat in other parts of Alberta, is very disturbing," he said, noting that an increasing proportion of users are single people and single parents.

McAra says the uptick in food bank users in Calgary compared to the decreasing numbers in other Alberta communities could be an indication that people are moving to the big city in search of work, but not finding it.

What's needed now is government action, McAra said. He's calling for stronger employment legislation, more affordable housing and social programs that don't claw back benefits when people start earning money.

"The tax credits are all focused on family units and people with children," he said. "So an individual doesn't have tax benefits to apply for."


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