Lethbridge food banks exceed Target Hunger collection goal despite climbing grocery prices

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge food banks collect about 60,000 pounds of food through Target Hunger' Lethbridge food banks collect about 60,000 pounds of food through Target Hunger
WATCH: The Lethbridge Food Bank and Interfaith Food Bank Society of Lethbridge used one of their biggest events of the year on Saturday to collect yellow bags full of donations across the city for Target Hunger. As Danica Ferris reports, the annual city-wide food drive is needed now more than ever – Jun 13, 2022

It’s become a year unlike any other for the Lethbridge Food Bank and Interfaith Food Bank Society of Lethbridge, as growing demand has left them struggling to keep up.

But despite the strain, the food banks were thrilled to exceed their collection goal for the annual Target Hunger city-wide food drive.

Read more: Lethbridge food banks expecting increased demand for services: ‘We’re preparing now for the worst’

“Target Hunger is designed to make it easy for people to participate as donors,” Interfaith executive director Danielle McIntyre said during Saturday’s event. “No one knocks on your door. You can put a bag out if you want to.”

Based on the influx of donations, it would appear that plenty of people in Lethbridge wanted to help.

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The pair of food banks had set a combined goal to collect 50,000 pounds of food during Target Hunger, and on Monday, Lethbridge Food Bank executive director Mac Nichol said not only was that goal surpassed, but but donations were continuing to come in.

“It’s trickling in. A lot of our pickups are at different locations like grocery stores, Cornerstone Funeral Home and the libraries,” Nichol said. “But currently we’ve taken in 60,000 pounds between both food banks, as well as almost $6,000.”

The combined value of community contributions was estimated to be nearly $195,000 as of Monday afternoon.

Read more: Lethbridge Food Bank hitting the road with mobile food support program

The annual food drive is the biggest event of the year for the organizations. Last year, Target Hunger brought in more than 73,000 pounds of donations, but McIntyre says 2022 had organizers not sure what to expect.

“This year is unlike other years, in the sense that we are just coming out of a pandemic, and we’re also experiencing inflation and very high grocery costs,” she said.

The Interfaith Food Bank has seen a steady increase in demand since March of last year; McIntyre says with the current economic climate, events like Target Hunger are more needed than ever in the community.

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“Month over month our numbers are growing, which is not unexpected — having just come out of a pandemic — but the current grocery prices, fuel costs, are definitely going to be putting more people in our lineup,” she said.

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That jump in demand has been mirrored at Lethbridge Food Bank, where Nichol says the numbers have almost becoming alarming.

“This year in May we did 150 more families than we did the year prior. Those numbers are a little bit scary,” he said.

“We also run a school lunch program — Mindful Munchies — and that program is helping 150 more individual children this year than it did last year.”

Read more: Lethbridge lunch program goes mobile after COVID-19 threat closes schools

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The need for a successful food drive was not lost on the 200 volunteers Saturday.

Fred Gravel has been volunteering with Interfaith since 1998 and has participated in Target Hunger year after year. He says this year the desperation has been clear.

“The shelves are empty and I think everybody is kind of feeling the pinch, with all the high prices and stuff,” Gravel said. “So all of this, all that we’re getting in, is from the heart.”

Organizers encourage community members to continue to bring in bags that may have been missed during Saturday’s pickup; donations will continue to be accepted at both food banks and local grocery store collection bins. Financial contributions are also being accepted online.

The hope is that donations from Target Hunger will help keep shelves at both food bank stocked for at least the remainder of the summer.

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