© Herald photo by Tyler Clarke
Albert Ballantyne sorts bread at the Prince Albert Share-A-Meal Food Bank on Wednesday.
Now’s the time to start collecting food donations to place at your front step on Saturday.
On Saturday, about 100 volunteers are expected to fan out across Prince Albert to pick up food donations left on doorstops, as well as knock on doors.
“Everyone has the right to have access to healthy food, and there’s no reason why anyone should go hungry in this country -- period,” Prince Albert Share-A-Meal Food Bank co-manager Wes Clark said.
Citing an increased reliance in Prince Albert on food hampers, Clark said that when it comes to volunteers and donations, “the more the merrier.”
“When you’re going 11,000 pounds, there’s no shortage to the amount of donations you can handle,” he said, noting that this figure translates into about 500 hampers per month.
“It’s such a high number we literally re-counted it over and over again because ‘it can’t possibly be that high,’ but it is.”
This doesn’t even take into account the 100 meals served every weekday at their downtown centre, Clark noted.
In September of last year, 456 food hampers were prepared for people in need -- a 20 per cent jump over the previous year’s 378.
This ongoing increase in food bank use we’re in the midst of is indicative of increased awareness and greater community need, Clark said.
“There are a lot of people who might not have utilized our services before who are, nowadays, and we’re seeing a lot more people feeling the crunch for rent and food costs -- as we all know, they’re on the rise,” he said.
Some food bank users are also between jobs, waiting on their first employment insurance cheque, while others are underemployed -- a segment Clark said is “definitely increasing.”
Saturday’s annual food drive will cap off the Food Security and Homelessness Action Week, embodying the “action” part of the weeklong series of events meant to bring awareness to their two issues of focus.
The food drive will begin with a pancake breakfast at 8 a.m., with drivers and their runners collecting donations from 10 a.m. until the citywide collection is done.
“The more the merrier – most definitely,” Clark said, adding that prospective volunteers should stop by the food bank before 10 a.m. “There’s so much to do, because we’ve got drivers and runners for those drivers. And at this end, we have to weigh everything in for the food fight.”
The “food fight” is a nation-wide competition between food banks over who can collect the most food.
Last year’s food drive resulted in a haul of more than 30,000 pounds of food.
Members of the public are encouraged to place food donations on their front step before 10 a.m. on Saturday. A paper bag has been mailed throughout the community for people to fill.
Clark encourages those whose home volunteers miss to call the Prince Albert Share-A-Meal Food Bank at 763-5040. Donations of food or money can always be dropped off at the food bank building itself, at 64 11th St. E.