By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
It’s been a tough few years, and local food banks have confirmed the continued rising cost of living has led to a growing number of people struggling with food insecurity, and are leaning on food banks for support.
For many, the holidays symbolize a cherished time of rest and connection with family and friends, celebrations, gifts, and special meals, but for a growing number of Canadians, the holidays are a painful time, particularly for people struggling with food insecurity.
Nancy Niebor, manager of the North County Interfaith Food Bank in Picture Butte said the number of people utilizing the food bank is growing: “we have absolutely seen an increase in people coming in to use the food bank.”
According to Renee Bowden, a coordinator at the Coaldale Food Bank, the number of people accessing food at Coaldale Food Bank has also gone up significantly since 2020.
Local food banks in the area are gearing up for their annual Christmas hampers to distribute to folks in need of a helping hand this holiday season.
In both Picture Butte and Coaldale, registration is now open for Christmas hampers, and both food banks are currently collecting and assembling hampers to be distributed in their respective service areas on Saturday, Dec. 16.
Niebor said community members in need of a hand up this holiday season are encouraged to reach out to the North County Outreach Society in Picture Butte at 587-787-4022, or by email at email@example.com.
Growing inflationary pressures in recent years has resulted in a 25 per cent increase in the cost to sponsor a Christmas hamper. Bowden said “We have had to up the amount of our hampers. The Christmas hampers usually cost $150 dollars to sponsor a family and we had to put it up to $200 to sponsor a family this year due to inflation and the rising cost of necessities.”
Bowden said, “we want to say how much we value people’s sponsorship and donations and consideration for their community.”
Both the Coaldale and Picture Butte Food Banks are always grateful to accept cash and non-perishable food donations to help support members of the community struggling with food insecurity.
The Coaldale Food Bank is open Tuesdays and Fridays from 9:30 a.m.- 1:30 p.m. The North County Interfaith Food Bank in Picture Butte is open from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., every Tuesday and Thursday.