Estevan food bank feeling effects of weak Sask. economy

The food bank in the Energy City has helped 59 new families this year and officials suggest a weak economy is responsible for the increase.

National report says Sask. food bank usage up 17.5 per cent

Estevan's food bank has served 39 per cent more people this year compared to last year. (Glenn Reid/CBC)

The Estevan food bank is feeling the effects of Saskatchewan's economic downturn.

The food bank has helped 59 new families this year, said the Salvation Army's family services co-ordinator Ronza Reynard.

"Considering the number of people in Estevan, that's a big increase," she said. In other terms, it's a 39-per-cent increase over last year.

Christmas season marks the start of the Salvation Army's biggest fundraising campaign of the year, involving Christmas kettles and mail-out requests. Between the two initiatives, the organization has set a goal of raising $100,000 during the four weeks leading up to Christmas.

Last year's fundraising campaign exceeded its goal of $90,000.

Food bank usage up across the province   

Saskatchewan has seen an increase in the number of people using food banks overall.

The Regina Food Bank said it's been a tough year.

Saskatchewan has seen an overall increase of 17.5 per cent in people who use food banks from last year. (Micki Cowan/CBC)

"We are going to see an increase of over 17 per cent ... that puts us over 31,000 people that accessed service from the Saskatchewan food bank in the month of march," said Steve Compton, the food bank's CEO.

"The effect of the economy, cost of living ... pushed a lot of people to our doors in numbers we haven't seen for some time."

The Canada Food Bank's annual report, Hunger Count 2016, was released earlier this week. The report shows that all but two provinces have had increases in food bank usage for the month of March when compared to 2015.

Compton said March is chosen as the month to calculate numbers because there are no significant holidays that require immediate calls for donations to assist families in need.