Shari Britton, with the Sylvan Lake Community Food Bank, stands in front of full shelves at the food bank after a shopping trip thanks to donations. However, the shelves will be empty again by the end of the week and need restocking. (Photo by Michaela Ludwig)

Shari Britton, with the Sylvan Lake Community Food Bank, stands in front of full shelves at the food bank after a shopping trip thanks to donations. However, the shelves will be empty again by the end of the week and need restocking. (Photo by Michaela Ludwig)

Food bank struggling with increasing costs and demand

According to the Consumer Price Index, Albertans paid an average of 6.2 per cent more for goods and services in September 2022 compared to September 2021, with food and transportation costs rising the most.

While most Albertans, and Canadians in general, have been feeling the pinch, the Sylvan Lake Community Food Bank (SLCFB) is struggling to keep up with demand and the rising cost of food.

“Our demand is as high as it’s ever been,” said Shari Britton, a volunteer with the SLCFB. “We’re just really, really busy, which is kind of a sign of the times.”

Britton said the SLCFB is breaking records these days, and not in a good way.

“It’s inflation, in my opinion,” she explained. “It’s the same with everything. It costs more money for rent, gas, utilities, and then they’re spending what they have leftover on food and it’s usually not enough.”

Britton said about 95 per cent of the people who utilize the food bank are from Sylvan Lake, but they do service the summer villages and areas outside of town as well.

“The beautiful thing is that we have really good donors,” Britton said. “But our challenge is even being able to buy some of this stuff because of supply chain issues.”

The SLCFB has a list of staple items available on its Facebook page, items that are always needed – for example, peanut butter, rice, coffee, tea and pancake mix; canned goods such as soups, fruits and vegetables, tuna, salmon and pasta sauce; and snacks, especially for school lunches, are always needed, which can include juice boxes, granola bars, puddings, jam and more.

“We can always use meat,” Britton said, adding that the SLCFB buys fresh fruits, vegetables, milk and cheese each week. For anyone wishing to donate products that aren’t shelf stable, Britton said it’s best to call ahead and make sure the food bank has enough room available to accommodate the donation.

“We get huge support from Sobeys, Walmart and No Frills,” Britton said. Sobeys and No Frills also have bins available in store for people to put in donations and the food bank comes by every week to collect the items.

“It’s an easy way to donate,” Britton said. “You can pick up a few extras and put them in the bin on the way out. That makes a big difference for us.”

Many people think of donating to the food bank around Christmastime, but Britton said it would be helpful if these kinds of drives could be held all year long, to spread things out.

“We need donations all year long,” she explained.

The SLCFB is located at 4725 43 St., unit 4, in Sylvan Lake. For more information or to donate, call 403-887-4534.

CommunityFood BankLocal News

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