Demand for hampers has ‘skyrocketed’ – food bank

High Prairie and District Food Bank is busy as it packs an increased number of hampers during the COVID-19 pandemic that was declared March 11. Food bank assistant co-ordinator Brenda Sandford sorts food on the shelves. The food bank is now operating under restricted services during the pandemic.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Demand for food hampers has skyrocketed at the High Prairie and District Food Bank since the COVID-19 pandemic was first announced March 11.

Volunteers remain busy at the food bank, which serves residents in the High Prairie region and Smoky River region around the main towns of Falher and McLennan.

“We have seen an increase in demand for hampers since the pandemic started,” food bank co-ordinator Kim Dumont says.

“For the month of March, we have seen an increase of 50 per cent in hampers in both regions,” co-ordinator Kim Dumont says.

Higher numbers reflect the sluggish economy during the pandemic, she says, as people deal with job loss and the cost of living.

“Our demographics have not change but we are seeing a lot of new clients who have never accessed the food bank before,” Dumont says.

A variety of households are applying for hampers, from singles, adults, couples and young families, to seniors.

Food items that are included in the hamper have remained the same.

“The only difference is the hampers may be a little smaller due to the fact people are now eligible to apply once a month instead of twice within a six-month period,” Dumont says.

“That is being reviewed on an ongoing basis during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

While food donations are not being accepted during the pandemic, the food bank keeps its shelves stocked.

“In the past few weeks, we have purchased food and also received food from Food Banks Alberta to help restock our shelves,” Dumont says.

Local grocery stores in both regions are good partners in the program, she says.

“We have had to purchase food for the High Prairie Food Bank and also our satellite food bank in Falher,” Dumont says.

“The grocery stores have been very helpful in trying to get us specific food items we may be short on.

“At this time, we are still not accepting any food donations at our door,” Dumont says.

She appreciates support from the community.

“We are very grateful people have reached out to the food bank to donate food donations.”

Monetary donations to the food bank may be delivered by mail or go online and donate through Canadahelps.org.

The address for the High Prairie food bank is Box 833; High Prairie; AB; T0G 1E0.

All applications are taken by phone during business hours Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

If the person is eligible for the hamper, they must schedule a time for pick up. Pick-up dates for hampers are on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays 10 a.m. to 3p.m.

For information, phone [780] 523-5777 or [780] 523-1492.

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