A total of three Alberta food banks are experiencing a windfall this Christmas after a Calgary business leader donated over $9 million to support their initiatives to feed the hungry.
Brad Shaw, the CEO of Calgary-based Shaw Communications, has donated $6 million to the Calgary Food Bank and $3 million to the Edmonton Food Bank. Another $100,000 will go towards the Calgary Veteran’s Food Bank Project. Together, this is the largest donation in Alberta food bank history.
“Our food banks are critical to the strength of our communities as an important resource that gives hope to families who may have come across hard times,” said Shaw in a statement. “We are fortunate to live in such a plentiful and generous province, but still many people in our communities don’t know where their next meal is coming from.”
“My family and I understand that the current circumstances facing our communities are particularly difficult, and we are pleased to be able to support the work of causes and organizations that make a difference to the health of our province.”
The substantial gifts are being made during an unprecedented period of economic hardship in the province due to the affect of the falling oil prices on the oil sands projects.
Statistics Canada data indicates the unemployment rate is seven per cent in the province, and the job market shrunk by 15,000 jobs last month.
Over the last few years, there has been a significant increase in the number of Albertans turning to food banks. Food bank usage numbers increased by 23 per cent in 2014, but across the country usage numbers only increased marginally. And this year to date, 75 per cent of the province’s food banks have reported an increase in demand for their services.
Approximately 33 per cent of those who use food banks report they are working, which is more than twice the national average.