BY RYAN WELLICOME
The Lacombe Community Food Bank is struggling to secure donations amid a scrambling provincial economy and nearing the end of the year’s slowest period.
Food Bank Manager Millie Snow said the organization has had to buy – using monetary donations – approximately 80% of it’s stock since March.
“It has not been good. It is tough right now,” she said.
Monetary donations make up the entirety of the organization’s income, funds which are normally allocated for employee and administrative costs.
Because the last six months have been particularly trying, a higher portion of this money has gone towards food to provide for their clients.
According to Snow, the months between March and September are usually less fruitful, without holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter to invoke charity, donations tend to fall off.
“People just don’t think about us much,” Snow said of the spring and summer months. “Everybody has other stuff they are doing.”
This year, Snow said, has been different. “It is worse than last year,” she said of the slow period.
Snow said demand is higher than last year and rather than seeing clients that visited occasionally, most clients are regulars that frequent the establishment.
According to Snow, none have been turned away yet. Thus far, the organization has weathered the storm.
In recent weeks, the food bank received a surprise donation of 252 lbs. of non-perishable food items from a group of community children. Inspired by an item on a bucket list, the children did their own ‘food drive’, collecting the items over one night, canvasing close to 70 homes for the bounty.
“It was wonderful,” said Snow. “They really surprised us.”
In particular, the food bank is currently seeking back to school food items for children including juice boxes, granola bars and fruit cups. With these and other items, the organization hopes to put together lunches for some of the community’s less fortunate children.
Snow said the pace tends to pick up in October once Thanksgiving comes and the holiday season begins.
Churches and schools in the community do annual food drives during the fall months so, “That helps,” said Snow.
In addition, the CP Holiday Train stops in the community in early December, giving the organization some relief.
Although the organization gets much in the way of donations during the fall months, those donations will only sustain the food bank until late winter, in an average year. Next year’s forecast doesn’t look very average.
The Red Deer Food Bank Society acts a hub for municipal food banks in Central Alberta, providing administrative assistance and food supply to smaller food banks in the region.
According to Snow, in a good year, the Lacombe Community Food Bank can see food supply coming from Red Deer as frequently as once a month. This year, only one supply shipment was received, highlighting a broader issue.
Snow has been with the Lacombe Community Food Bank for 10 years and hasn’t seen a year this slow.
The food bank accepts monetary or food donations at 5255-53rd St. and is open 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Friday.