LETHBRIDGE, AB – The Interfaith Food Bank Society of Lethbridge saw well over 5,000 visits a year ago.
Food Banks Canada has released its Hunger Count 2018. The report looks at food bank use across the country. In March of 2018, there were 5,352 visits to the Interfaith Food Bank in Lethbridge.
Comparatively, there were 97,497 visits across all of Alberta.
In Canada, that number was listed at 1.1 million.
Neil Heaton, Operations Manager at Interfaith, said one of the major trends they have seen in the last year is the increase in single individuals who are accessing the food bank.
Following up on the Hunger Count, he said Interfaith’s numbers are comparable with the rest of the country.
“Based on our stats, our single-parent households are substantially higher than the Canada average, 27 per cent as opposed to 19 per cent Canada-wide,” he said.
“Just the number of children that are in need of support is pretty high throughout the country, and it’s just unacceptable for people to not be receiving the support. We need to figure out something that can help the people that are in need.”
Heaton said that residents can assist by making a monetary donation, or by swinging by the food bank and dropping off food items.
“Our staple hamper items are what we usually require throughout the year. Things like canned vegetables, pork and beans, other bean-type products…high in protein is what we always kind of push people towards, but we’re always in need in any kind of food you can think of, especially perishable items. This time of year, the perishable items…we don’t receive very much. So anything like that is very much appreciated,” he said.
Heaton noted that the food bank does not have a pick-up service, but they do collect food from local suppliers.
“If it’s a local supplier and they have a large donation, then we definitely will pick it up,” he said.
Residents can also call the food bank at 403-320-8779 if they cannot drop off items but would like to make a donation to the cause.
Heaton said there is a list available on Interfaith’s website of food items they’re in need of. That can be viewed at interfaithfoodbank.ca.
Across Canada, in March of 2018, 35 per cent of food bank visits were from children under 18 years of age. In Alberta, that percentage was listed at 38.
Children under 12 made up 25 per cent of visits in Canada, and 27 per cent across Alberta.
The report also included the following statistics:
-Single parent households made up 19 per cent of visits in Canada, with 23 per cent in Alberta.
-45 per cent of visits were by single individuals (Canada), and 36 per cent (Alberta).
-Seniors made up 6.3 per cent of visits in Canada, while that number was at 4.4 per cent for Alberta.
-15 per cent of people who report employment income visited food banks in Canada in March 2018. In Alberta, 24 per cent of people who report employment income visited local food banks.
-People with social assistance or disability supports made up 59 per cent of visits across Canada, while 54 per cent visited food banks in Alberta last March.
More details on Hunger Count 2018 can be found at www.foodbankscanada.ca.
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