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Lacombe Community Food Bank has seen a spike in demand for services

The Lacombe Community Food Bank is seeing a rise in demand for services.
Pictured here are Vern and Millie Snow, who operate the Lacombe Community Food Bank. Mark Weber/Lacombe Express

The Lacombe Community Food Bank is seeing a rise in demand for services.

Millie Snow, the Food Bank’s general manager, said that the need has gone up compared to the pre-COVID times.

The Food Bank is located at 5225 - 53 St.

“We are getting a lot of new people,” she said. “Some are calling to say they just can’t make it anymore, can they come in and get a hamper.”

To access services at the Food Bank, an appointment isn’t necessary.

But folks do have to bring two pieces of identification - one with their name and address on it, and the other with a photo.

There is a form of general information to fill out as well, mainly for the Food Bank’s records.

Snow, who also manages the thrift store on the upper level, said that donations of food and cash are always appreciated, and recently, Fraserway RV Lacombe donated a very generous gift of $22,000 to the Lacombe Community Food Bank.

Snow is so grateful for the support, adding that every year the company donates to the Food Bank. These gifts go a long way to helping to meet the growing demand, she said.

Snow started working in the thrift store in 2004.

“The next year, this position came open and my husband said, ‘Well, you are down there quite a bit so maybe you should take that position, too,” she added with a laugh. “So I did, and I quite enjoy it.”

What keeps her inspired? Both the clients and the volunteers.

“We do have a program that if our clients receive a hamper, they can also get a ride home,” she said. “We have people who will drive them home.”

As to what’s needed these days, virtually anything is appreciated. “Anything that you would use in your own house, those who come here will use, too,” she said.

Her heart for helping others also shows through her involvement with the Red Deer Soup Kitchen which is run through Adventist Community Services.

For Snow, building awareness about the Food Bank is also essential. “For some people, I don’t know if they even realize we are here,” she said. “Same with the thrift store upstairs.”

Hours for the Lacombe Community Food Bank and the thrift store are Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 1 to 4 p.m. and Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m.

They are also open on Fridays from 1 to 3 p.m.

People can also rest assured their donations are put to good use - surplus supplies are occasionally shipped to African countries as well.

Meanwhile, the increase in demand for help here in Lacombe falls in line with the latest HungerCount report, released earlier this fall by Food Banks Canada.

According to the report, Albertans rely on food banks more than any other province in the country.

Other highlights from the report say that from 2019 to 2022, there was a 73 percent provincial increase in food bank use, more than double the national average.

It also shows that social services and government benefits have not increased with inflation, which has also created an over-reliance on food banks for support.

The report also shows that Alberta homeowners and those with jobs are accessing the food bank at a higher rate than the national average and that wages have not kept pace with the cost of living, inflation, and rising consumer costs like utilities.

Coupled with inflation, grocery prices have also reached a 41-year high, resulting in a decreased capacity for individuals to donate to their food bank or support charitable initiatives.

For more about the Lacombe Community Food Bank, call 403-782-6777.

Mark Weber

About the Author: Mark Weber

I've been a part of the Black Press Media family for about a dozen years now, with stints at the Red Deer Express, the Stettler Independent, and now the Lacombe Express.
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