Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

The Calgary Food Bank is seeing more demand than usual this holiday season

Breadcrumb Trail Links

People ask who the typical grocery bank customer is, and it really is anyone, you, me, your friends, your neighbors, or family members. It has never been as true as it is now, “Ogston said

Article author:

Stephanie Babych

Release date:

December 24, 2020 • • December 24, 2020 • • 3 minutes read • • Join the conversation Morissa Villeneuve, Community Engagement Supervisor at Calgary Food Bank, and Caitlin Reid, Community Engagement Coordinator, pose for a photo with white bags filled with donations on Friday, September 18, 2020. Photo by Azin Ghaffari / Postmedia

Article content

Demand at the Calgary Food Bank is higher than usual this holiday season as more people grapple with food and financial uncertainty.

There are more and more people seeking help from the grocery bank during the holidays, but this fall, the busiest months of last year have increased by eight to eleven percent, said Shawna Ogston, a food bank spokeswoman.

But as more and more people need help getting through the season, the Calgary community has stepped up to donate extra money, food, and volunteer time. So far, with all the extra support, the food bank has been able to handle the busy year.

“People ask who the typical grocery bank customer is, and it really is anyone, you, me, your friends, your neighbors, or family members. It has never been as true as it is now, ”Ogston said.

“People have to choose between buying groceries or paying their rent or mortgage. We’re glad the food bank can help them relieve that stress over the holidays. “

advertising

This ad hasn’t loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Before the pandemic spread to Alberta, demand at the food bank had already increased in the first few months of the year due to the difficult economic situation. When a significant segment of the population was unemployed overnight due to early COVID-19 measures and shutdowns in March, there were growing concerns about how many Calgarians would need food.

With the implementation of the pandemic preparedness plan created after the SARS outbreak in 2004, the food bank implemented a telephone system and thoroughfare, and adjusted schedules for staff and volunteers to promote the safest possible system.

The phone line was opened to anyone in need of food, and the drive through allowed workers to drop off obstacles with minimal contact.

In April, the grocery bank was handing out around 360 baskets a day, down from the usual 250.

“With everyone going into the store at the beginning of the pandemic to fill their pantries for a few weeks, those people and families already struggling with their monthly budget couldn’t do so. There were growing concerns about how they would get food right away to make sure their families were safe when everything was closed, ”Ogston said.

However, the situation calmed down when people started receiving financial assistance from the federal government through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and other programs. Demand returned to normal levels in late spring and summer.

“We know that CERB had some great effects. People had the money to buy their food. But then, when CERB and other supports ended and prices started to rise, when deferrals and the like came due in September, we saw the increases again, ”Ogston said.

advertising

This ad hasn’t loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

As the food bank’s busiest months approached, they expected high demand, especially as public health action increased with increasing cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19.

Steve Griffin, Center Street Church Pastor for Compassionate Service, stands in the church's food collection area for the Calgary Food Bank on Thursday, October 22, 2020. Steve Griffin, Center Street Church Pastor for Compassionate Service, stands in the church’s food collection area for the Calgary Food Bank on Thursday, October 22, 2020. Gavin Young / Postmedia

During a normal fall season, many companies make annual layoffs, seasonal jobs end, and expenses such as groceries and heating increase. This year, the number of food banks rose eight to 11 percent above average due to the pandemic and persistent unemployment.

“Last November we distributed 6,100 baskets, and in November this year we distributed 6,800 baskets,” said Ogston.

“This year there are many individuals and families coming. Families and individuals who never thought they had to come to the food bank and now they are accessing these social supports. “

The food bank had to adjust its annual Stuff A Bus campaign in November due to the pandemic. She dropped trash cans outside of the Calgary Co-op locations instead of filling the Calgary Transit buses with non-perishable food donations and cash.

But even in these unpredictable times, the community continued to support the food bank to ensure that the supply could meet the high demand.

A Twitter campaign by local entrepreneur Arlene Dickinson and Mayor Naheed Nenshi in April raised nearly $ 200,000 for the food bank in 48 hours to help the community weather the first few months of the pandemic.

“We are truly community owned and community supported. Because of the community, we are able to meet the demand every day, ”said Ogston. “Calgary is very generous.”

Ogston predicts that the need for food will continue to be significant through 2021, as many people are still unemployed, many on short-time work and others with businesses closed. But thanks to people’s generosity this holiday season, the food bank can continue to help those in need, she said.

sbabych@postmedia.com
Twitter: @BabychStephanie

Share this article on your social network

Calgary Herald headlines

By clicking the “Subscribe” button, you agree to receive the above-mentioned newsletter from Postmedia Network Inc. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link at the bottom of our emails. Postmedia Network Inc. | 365 Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3L4 | 416-383-2300

Remarks

Postmedia strives to maintain a lively but civil discussion forum and to encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. It can take up to an hour for comments to be moderated before they appear on the website. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have activated email notifications. You will now receive an email when you get a reply to your comment, when a comment thread you follow is updated, or when a user follows comments. For more information and details on customizing your email settings, see our Community Guidelines.

Comments are closed.