Edmonton Food Bank dealing with a continued increase in demand

Food was sorted on Saturday which will be delivered to local food banks. FILE/Natasha Pace/Global News

Edmonton’s Food Bank had been hoping for a drop in demand this year, but it’s gone up instead.

Executive Director Marjorie Bencz said last year was a challenging one with a sluggish economy, the Fort McMurray wildfire evacuees, and a number of refugee organizations needing help.

“So we kind of thought that 2016 was an intense year; one that would be behind us,” Bencz said. “And, unfortunately, as we entered 2017, the trend of increased numbers of people needing our services continued.”

READ MORE: Edmonton Food Bank needs more than just cash donations ahead of busy Christmas season

Bencz said in 2014, they served around 14,000 people in October, but this October it was over 21,000.

She said they’ve had a couple months this year where they helped to feed around 25,000 people each month through the hamper program alone.

Story continues below advertisement

“There are people who lost their jobs two or three years ago and have struggled with regaining employment.

“So that group tends to be that group of people 50 or older that have been working all their lives, but now are maybe seen as not as employable for a variety of reasons; and there just isn’t the jobs out there.”

READ MORE: 10,000 pounds of potatoes harvested by Edmonton students, volunteers for food bank

Edmonton’s Food Bank is also seeing a lot of younger families struggling to pay the rent and other fixed costs every month.

Luckily, Bencz said they have been very well supported by the community and they appreciate the support they have received.

“We don’t operate without the support of either time, food, or money; and all of those are important elements of the work we do. And when I say time, I mean volunteer contributions. Volunteers are essential to our work. They do everything from packing our hampers to taking calls from people who need help, helping us at special events, and those types of things as well.”

READ MORE: Western Canada initiative sees fresh produce go to food banks as shoppers buy local vegetables

Candy Cane Lane will start accepting donations for the food bank when it opens on Dec. 9, and the ETS Stuff-a-Bus event will take place on Dec. 2, at all Save-On-Foods in the city.