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Food bank demand soars nearly 60% in Edmonton

Edmonton Food Bank. Global News

More people are asking the Edmonton Food Bank for help and requests for hampers continues to climb. The organization saw an increase of close to 60 per cent between December 2014 and December 2015.

In February 2016, 736 households receiving hampers reported they were either receiving or waiting for Employment Insurance (EI).

“The recent changes to EI have left Edmonton residents as the only Albertans not eligible for the extended weeks of benefits,” a news release from the food bank said.

READ MORE: Trudeau standing by government’s decision to exclude Edmonton from EI extension 

Employment Insurance claims are up 91 per cent since January of 2015 and tens of thousands of people have been laid off.

READ MORE: Alberta charities trying to adapt to ‘double-edged sword’ during downturn 

Organizations across the non-profit sector are feeling the pressure to meet the rising need.

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“From a social service perspective, we see it very clearly, the numbers are there,” the United Way‘s Mike Kluttig said. “Food bank use is up 60 per cent, we know that there has been a spike in distress line calls, a spike in suicide rate. More of these immediate types of supports, like housing, food security, even school supplies.”

The Salvation Army in Alberta said, because of the increased demand, it’s had to cut back on what it can offer.

“For example, food hampers may be smaller,” Pam Goodyear said.

The Edmonton Food Bank will be running a number of different initiatives and partnerships over the next few months in an attempt to reduce the number of people needing its services.

One of those partnerships will be a free resume and job search tips workshop on April 7 run with BGS Career and Corporate Development.

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