Stettler and District Food Bank has recorded an increase in traffic during the economic downturn and recession in Alberta and globally.
“We have given out an average of 120 hampers per month this year compared with 93 last year,” said Kathy Willis, executive director of the food bank for the past 12 years.
“Our numbers are back to a high when BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy – mad cow disease) was first found in Alberta in 2003.”
This time, the slowdown in the gas and oil industry is the major factor, she said.
With much of the industry based in the Stettler, many businesses laid off staff or closed down, driving considerably more people to the local food bank.
“It looks like these tough economic times have caught up with the food bank,” said Willis.
Figures were lower in March when many businesses were just starting to reduce staff and restructure operations.
“The community is extremely good to us in donating food and funds,” said Willis.
Shelves at the food bank were replenished during the annual community food drive Oct. 5 hosted by Stettler Regional Fire Rescue.
“Food donations were comparable to other years, but the amount of cash donations was down, which is understandable during these tough economic times,” said Willis.
She appreciated the volunteers, and specially recognized Heartland Youth Centre for serving an extensive amount of time.
Stettler food bank relies on citizens of the community and surrounding region for donated food, since provincial and federal funding is not available for food banks.
Donations of food can be made at major grocery stores in Stettler – Sobey’s and No Frills – and at the food bank at Stettler United Church basement weekday mornings.
“Smaller donations certainly help and we hope the community rises to the occasion to continues to support the food bank,” said Willis.
As the Christmas season approaches, residents will have ample opportunity to fill the shelves by donating at various campaigns.
“We can accept fresh vegetables and fruit but not home-canned food and wild meat,” says Willis.
Cash donations help the food bank purchase perishable products such as milk, eggs and meat.
Over an average year, the food bank provides food for 446 people who for various reasons are unable to manage their own needs.
For more information, phone Willis at 403-742-4567.