Alberta is the “hardest hit” province in Canada according to a recent HungerCount 2015 report, which discloses results from an annual study of more than 4,000 food banks and other food programs. Unemployment is in part to blame as it has increased by 10 per cent from March 2014 to March 2015 in our province.
Nationally, Food Bank use has increased 1.3 per cent since 2015 with half of the provinces experiencing an increase in food bank use. The increased food bank usage is largely driven by the changes in Alberta, Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia.
“In March 2015, 852,137 people received food from a food bank in Canada. More than one-third of those helped were children,” stated the HungerCount 2015 report.
Speaking solely to Alberta, the usage of food banks is up 23.4 per cent from March 2014 with 67,443 people assisted. Out of those being assisted 41 per cent ,or 27,803, were children, 30 per cent were families, and about 29 per cent of food bank clients were working.
Three-quarters or 75 per cent of food banks located in Alberta reported an increase in use.
Looking into a longer spectrum of time, to put things into perspective, usage in Alberta is up almost 83 per cent since March 2008, which was noted as the beginning of the economic downturn.
The primary purpose of the HungerCount study is to track the number of individuals and households that are assisted by food banks and meal programs both nationally and provincially. Information is collected on three accounts; the number of unique individuals that receive food from the food banks, the total meals and snacks prepared and served by meal programs, and the total number of visits to food banks.
With the HungerCount 2015 report stats now in, the question “are Calgary’s food banks ready for this years holidays?” comes in too and the answer is promising.
The Calgary Food Bank has already started gearing up for their busiest season. To prepare for this year, the Calgary Food Bank has help from hundreds of food donations and fundraisers, like 18 Wheels of Christmas, around Calgary that help stock shelves ensuring they can help those who visit the food bank through the new year.