Food bank’s demand down
Wednesday, Dec 06, 2017 06:00 am
Fewer people living in the Foothills’ west side need a hand putting dinner on the table this Christmas compared to last year.
Oilfields Food Bank president Glenn Chambers said there has been a drop in registration for Christmas food hampers compared to this time last year.
The registration deadline is Dec. 15, the day the volunteers deliver the hampers.
“There doesn’t seem to be quite as much need right now,” he said. “The need in November, compared to last year, is down by about 20 per cent.”
As of Nov. 30, food bank volunteers received 50 registration forms for Christmas hampers. The hampers include everything needed to make a Christmas dinner, including turkeys, potatoes, fresh fruit and vegetables, cranberry sauce, stuffing, as well as some extras.
Chambers said about 100 Christmas hampers were distributed last year and 90 in 2015.
The need for hampers has shifted from the majority of recipients being large families to households with several adults living in the home, Chambers said.
“Some houses have four adults living there,” he said. “It’s a lot of extended families where grandma and grandpa or mom and dad live there. It seems to be a bit of a trend right now.”
Chambers said the Christmas hamper program is separate from the weekly hampers the Oilfields Food Bank distributes, and in many cases those applying for Christmas hampers are not users of the regular program.
“Many people just don’t have the extra money when you start buying the extras for Christmas,” he said.
“Turkeys can cost you $25 to $30 sometimes. People might not have extra cash for a Christmas meal or have relatives coming from out of town and just have enough for themselves.”
Those who apply for weekly hampers are also eligible for the Christmas hamper, Chambers said.
“We have people that will get a regular hamper the week before and that’s fine,” he said. “We don’t include the Christmas hamper as a regular hamper.
“What they get at Christmas is not going to last them all week. We probably spend about $5,000 on the food over and above what we normally supply.”
Chambers said the food bank is well stocked. Last month’s firefighter food drive in Black Diamond, Longview and Turner Valley collected 5,000 kilograms of food and about $5,000 in cash donations, he said.
In addition, Chambers said there’s typically an influx of donations in December.
“We have never not been able to meet the needs of anybody as far as hampers go,” he said. “It really shows the generosity of the community.”
The need for food is often related to seasonal work, Chambers said.
Oilfields Food Bank volunteers distribute an average of eight to 10 hampers a week.
Chambers said this year they exceeded 50 in the month of January and by July had dropped to 15.
“A lot of people that are getting support through food banks are seasonal workers,” he said.
“That seems to be the trend. Other than there is no real logical explanation for it.”
The Oilfields Food Bank assists an estimated population of 12,000 that extends as far south as Eden Valley, north to Highway 22X and west of Okotoks to the mountains, Chambers said.
Anyone interested in registering for a Christmas food hamper can call 403-612-1291 or 403-669-3668.