Noble, president of the board for Share-A-Meal Food Bank, said that it went really well this year.
“We have 37 routes, with 37 drivers. Where as last year they had to do double (duty),” said Noble.
Drivers took to the streets of Prince Albert, picking up food donations and bringing them back to stock the shelves of Share-A-Meal’s back room.
There were more than 100 other volunteers, making the total number swell to about 150 people who spent the day sifting and sorting through the assortment of canned and boxed food.
The We Care Harvest for Hope Food Drive is their largest food drive of the year and helps to stock the shelves for months to come, right through Christmas and the New Year.
“This should be enough food till probably February,” Noble said.
Despite the positive turnout in volunteers, the reality is that for the food to last that long, the food bank must stick to limiting the amount of hampers a person can receive.
Hampers are limited to one per family, per month, Noble said.
Each hamper contains three days worth of food.
“Three meals a day for three days,” Noble said.
“It’s not much but it helps tide them over … We don’t turn anyone away.”
Every day dozens of hampers leave the shelves.
“We do about 25 to 35 hampers a day, Monday to Friday,” Noble said.
At a low estimate of 25 hampers a day that means between 6,000 and 7,000 hampers are dispensed in a year.
To meet the need, Noble says that they would need to double their hampers.
“One hamper a month doesn’t do it. We’d have to give out two hampers a month.”
The need is greater than their current supply, said Noble, which limits their ability to give.
“Until we can get more food,” Noble said.
“The need is so great and it’s not just street people. It’s the working poor, it’s senior citizens, there’s a lot.”
The food bank also serves a meal a day at its downtown location, which is available to anyone who needs it.
“A lot of people come in for that,” Noble said.
“One hamper a month doesn’t do it. We’d have to give out two hampers a month.” - Noble
“We have people that we serve every day for a meal and they’re getting hampers.”
The reasons for the level of need in Prince Albert are varied, said Noble.
High rent, a lack of jobs all take effect, she said.
Sometimes someone loses a job due to childcare problems or addiction issues, or they are new to town and haven not found a job, Noble said.
“We had people in here who had moved from Calgary and they were cleaning a house out, that they found, it was the only place they could find and they cleaned it out for a month’s rent … and it was disgusting.”
While all donations are needed and appreciated, due to legal restrictions, the food bank cannot accept homemade products. That includes preserves and wild meat that is produced independently.
Meat can be accepted, however only if it is processed and packaged by a licensed butcher.