Food bank shelves were much fuller during the Christmas season. Since that time

Food bank usage almost doubles last year’s count

Startling evidence of the hard times that have fallen upon Albertans can be found on the empty shelves of the Rimbey food bank.

Startling evidence of the hard times that have fallen upon Albertans can be found on the empty shelves of the Rimbey food bank as more and more people are being forced to turn to outside help to feed themselves and their hungry families.

Katherine Winter, food bank co-ordinator said the requests for hampers has almost doubled, noting last year at this time about 12 or 15 hampers were sent out monthly compared to as many as 30 needed this year.

Each hamper contains about five to seven days of food.

Peggy Makofka, executive director of Rimbey and district FCSS said people accessing the food bank vary.

“We have lots of families and young singles who have no work.”

She said hard times have fallen on many people, but those who worked on a contract basis or had their own companies are especially vulnerable to the economic downturn as they have no unemployment insurance benefits.

Most recipients come from the Rimbey area, although they have had some individuals apply with ‘no fixed address.’

The Rimbey food bank, which exists solely through donations and volunteers, receives food from donations that have been dropped off at the Co-op or through cash donations which can be taken to the FCSS office in the provincial building.

The food bank, which also has a membership with Food Banks Canada and Alberta Food Banks, can access some food through those groups.

“We have been doing that for about four years,” said Makofka. “Food is picked up in Edmonton or Calgary.”

Presently the food bank is low on milk and canned fruit and vegetables. Flour, rolled oats and meals in a can are also needed.

All food is gratefully accepted, but expired items can not be used due to health regulations. Items which are expired are taken to the soup kitchen where it is determined if they are salvageable and can be used in soups.

Makofka said the FCSS board is keeping a close eye on the food bank to ensure demand doesn’t exceed the supply.

Volunteers are always needed for FCSS programs such as the food bank, meals on wheels and the volunteer income tax program.

Volunteers are screened and need to complete a criminal record check.