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Lethbridge's food banks see 40% increase over holidays, donations still needed

Volunteers at food banks in Lethbridge say they received a lot of donations to fill holiday hampers, but the days ahead are still concerning. Volunteers at food banks in Lethbridge say they received a lot of donations to fill holiday hampers, but the days ahead are still concerning.

With the holidays wrapping up, demand for Lethbridge’s food banks isn’t expected to slow down.

“Between both food banks, we saw a 40 per cent increase over last Christmas, which is unreal,” said Mac Nichol, executive director of the Lethbridge Food Bank.

This was one of the busiest holiday seasons for food banks in Lethbridge.

The Interfaith Food Bank saw a 47 per cent increase in single families needing help, while both food banks saw a combined 40 per cent increase in people served this Christmas.

“Normally, we would have a food mountain and lots of stock going into the new year, but this year we just saw things going out as fast as they came in,” said Danielle McIntyre, executive director of Interfaith Food Bank.

The Interfaith Food Bank has been doing 600 hampers each month, with 877 packaged for Christmas.

With the sharp increase this season, both food banks say throughout the season stock became low, but, with the help from the community, everyone was able to be served.

“We knew this was going to be a tricky year for a lot of our donors, we have seen a lot of donors become clients in the last while and so we were unsure as to what the donations from clients would look like,” McIntyre said.

“We did have to do a lot of pre-purchasing so we aren't 100 per cent sure if we will recoup all of the money we have spent, but the community always steps up and helps us out.”

Although the holidays and 2022 may be over, Nichol believes the added demand isn't going to stop.

"The worrying part is we're not seeing those clients leave,” Nichol said. “A lot of time people come, only get their Christmas hamper and get treated for Christmas and then they don't use the food bank for the rest of the year.

“We're worried this time they'll come back for January.”

With that anticipated increase expected, both food banks are asking the public to donate into the new year.

“January and February are a little slower for us,” Nichol added. “People aren't out doing food drives and things so normally we're quite stocked and as you can see behind me we have a lot of food right now and we're prepared to be able to get through the months, but we are getting worried that if we don't have that continued support moving forward and our numbers keep rising we're going to start to be pinched.”

With inflation and the cost of living continuing to be a factor, McIntyre is gearing up for busy year.

“When someone has hit the food bank, it takes them about six months before their able to move beyond it,” she said.

“We hope to see to see our numbers come down, but we prepare to have the increase demand for most of 2023.” Top Stories

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