Displaying a worrisome number of empty spaces only a few weeks ago, the Prince Albert Share-A-Meal Food Bank’s shelves are now full of food.
Their biggest event of the year, the We Care Harvest for Hope Food Drive, more than topped up their shelves a couple weeks ago.
“We collected about 12 tonnes of food. We were quite happy with that. It’s nice to see full shelves, plus we’ve got some (food) in storage,” co-manager Wes Clark said.
“We go through about three to four tons a month, so 12 tons is about four months’ supply.”
The need for food bank service is close to matching the community’s increased support, with Clark estimating food bank use up by about 24 per cent so far this year over last.
“There’s a wide spectrum of people who access the food bank,” he said. “It’s not just social services recipients, but there are people on pension, people who lose homes to fires and things like that.
“We all know what the rental prices are in town. How far does a minimum wage go? Am I going to pay my rent or am I going to eat this month.”
In September, 456 food hampers were prepared for people in need, a 20 per cent jump over last year’s September total of 378.
The peak month during both years was August, with 523 hampers prepared in August of this year and 491 in August of 2011.
This is in addition to hot meals provided every weekday, with an average of about 100 people turning up per day.
Although they’re currently fully stocked on all the food staples, Clark notes that they’re never fully in the clear. With food bank use on the increase, the community will have to keep up.
“Right now we’re not worried, but come spring time and into the summer we’re routinely buying canned meat, soup, beans — the staples,” he said.
Recognizing this need, the city’s newly elected mayor Greg Dionne pledged $500 toward the organization during a fundraiser at the Prince Albert Inn on Thursday.
The money comes from his campaign fund and was originally earmarked for an election night celebration.
“We talked about all the problems in our community, and we’re spending money on a party?” Dionne said prior to the election.
CitiFinancial’s Prince Albert office has also announced the sponsoring of a food drive through the month of November, wherein non-perishable foods can be dropped off to their office at 135 15th St. E.
Donations of food or money can always be dropped off at the food bank building itself, at 64 11th St. E. The organization can be contacted at 763-8161.