News / Edmonton

Edmonton food bank sees big boost in clients

Between 20,000 to 24,000 people have been coming to food banks on a monthly basis

The Edmonton Food Bank is seeing upwards of 20,000 a month even in the summer months, which are usually less busy.

Kevin Tuong / Edmonton Freelance

The Edmonton Food Bank is seeing upwards of 20,000 a month even in the summer months, which are usually less busy.

After a year of record-setting demand, the Edmonton Food Bank is hoping for more cash donations to help "bridge the gap" as they head into the holiday season, usually one of the busiest times of year.

Spokesperson Tamisan Bencz-Knight said between January and September of this year, every single month (except April) has surpassed the number of clients coming in compared to 2016.

“Edmonton food bank has been fortunate that we have been able to keep our doors open and continue to provide food to the community,” she said.

“We have done internal systems to be able to weather those volume of people that are needing our help ... we have volunteers non-stop answering those phone lines, we have an online option as well, we have increased the number of depots around the city.”

She said the number of people coming in had been increasing steadily since 2013 but saw a significant jump for 2016 and 2017.

“For example, May 2015 we served about 15,500 people, and in May 2016 it jumped to 23,600 people because of the forest fires and we saw 24,000 (people) in 2017,” Bencz-Knight said.

She said for 2017, they even saw an increase in the number of people during months like July and August, that are usually below the 20,000 mark.

“This year we had 20,200 (people) in July and 22,500 (people) in August, so even those months where we are supposed to have a little bit of a break, they were huge,” she said.

Bencz-Knight said except the month of April, which saw 19,000 people, every other month saw between 20,000 to 24,000 people walking into the food bank.

She said to make up for the numbers, they had to do a lot of food purchases for even basic things like canned soup.

“When you think about the food bank you think, ‘Oh, they would have lots of canned soup’ but we actually had to go out and purchase some to make sure that we had the product available,” she said.

But demand usually rises again during the holidays, she said, so she's hoping Edmontonians can be generous.

Although she said Edmontonians have been very helpful with food donations or even just volunteering so they are “cautiously optimistic” that come Christmas, they will be able to provide everyone with food.  

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