Edmonton Food Bank low on donations, demand still high: 'People are struggling'

Edmonton's Food Bank is asking for your help this Easter. Spring is always a difficult time of year for the charity, but this year is proving harder than most. Fletcher Kent has more.

There’s still a high need for the Edmonton Food Bank but spring is a tough time for the organization when it comes to donations.

“We’re in that in-between time right now,” spokesperson Samantha Potkins said. “Between Christmas festive campaign and Heritage Festival food drive, which is a big one for us — that in-between time when just donations in general are lower than they are at other times of the year. The challenging part about that is hunger is 365 days a year.”

READ MORE: Red Deer Food Bank staff see ‘heart-wrenching’ unprecedented demand

If you compare the first quarter of 2019 with the first quarter of 2018, the food bank is down about 30,000 kilograms of public food donations.

“People are struggling across the board, we know that,” Potkins said. “It’s challenging times in Alberta right now, in general.

“Part of the challenge is just awareness, engaging the public… keeping us top of mind. Every little bit helps.”

READ MORE: Economic downturn putting pressure on Alberta charities 

Food banks across Alberta have been trying to help more clients than usual over the past few years. The elevated level of need hasn’t subsided yet this year for the Edmonton chapter, Potkins said.

“So far demand is still the same — around 20,000 people a month through our hamper program is who we’re serving, in addition to the 250 agencies, churches, schools and food depots. We haven’t noticed a decline as of yet, fingers crossed as the year progresses.”

Watch below (Nov. 29, 2015): Charities across Alberta say they’re feeling the pinch of the fragile economy. Michel Boyer reports.

There are certain times of year where donations come in at a more consistent rate, especially during Christmas, when being charitable is a real focus, Potkins said.

But food leaves the warehouse at the same rate now as it does other times of year, regardless of how many donations are coming in.

READ MORE: Edmonton’s Food Bank sees demand increase by 50% in 3 years

“Christmas has come and gone to the point where we’ve gone through the generous donations that were made to us during that time of year,” she said. “During the spring here is a time when we really encourage the public to think of us again and help us stock those shelves.

“When we’re moving food out of our warehouse really quite quickly, the need is really high,” Potkins said. “Having the food come in to help us balance that is really important.”

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