The Red Deer Food Bank has just wrapped up one of their busiest years on record according to Executive Director, Mitch Thomson. This year, the food bank saw demand increase by 47 per cent throughout 2022.  

It seems the need in the community was not far from the minds of Red Deerians as the year also brought in a remarkable number of donations. 

“This year we had 1.2 million pounds of food donated to the Red Deer Food Bank, which seems like a remarkable number. Over 900,000 pounds of food came from our grocery stores and producers. Another 200,000 pounds came from our businesses and organizations that held food drives and then people, individuals, and households donated about an additional 200,000 of food. It was a great year as far as giving, even considering what the outstanding costs were for food, gas, and utilities that people were experiencing,” explained Thomson.  

Despite all the donations, Thomson says donations will need to remain constant to keep up with the current demand. Need and food bank usage continues to increase since the pandemic began.  

“We are seeing quite a change this year. When you look at real numbers, last year (2021), the Red Deer Food Bank provided food hampers that fed about 16,000 people in the central Alberta area. This year (2022), just about 26,000 people were served food hampers in the previous year (2021), 40 per cent of those people were children. This year (2022), 50 per cent of those people that received emergency food were children. 

In addition to that, we also have a number of people that supplement their diet by coming into our pantry. This year (2022), we had over 40,000 people visit the Red Deer Food Bank for bread and extras as we call them just to get by,” explained Thomson.  

Thomson noted that it seems the people that feeling the pinch the most are families with children and seniors.  

Although the ‘season of giving’ has come and gone Thomson believes this year’s donations will not be completely stocking the food bank for the New Year. Typically, holiday donations can last the organization for around three and half months.  

“We've received lots of tremendous donations of food, money, and time from people, but we're not stocked up at this point in the way we have been in years past. It will continue to be a difficult time for the Food Bank to keep up with the demand,” he added.  

He expects more frequent food drives will be required in 2023 but no matter what the circumstances are, the Red Deer Food Bank remains grateful for every donation.  

“I think everybody recognizes the economy and where inflation is. I think people are also seeing the numbers of people that we have coming to our community from other parts of the world that have been displaced and all of all of these very real factors. We just want to thank the community for all it does to help us help those that need a little assistance,” he added.