Record numbers have been accessing the Drayton Valley Food Bank in 2024.

Philip Bell, the treasurer and data collector for the Food Bank, says the number of people using the program has increased by 50 percent in 2024 over 2023. This was after an increase of 20 percent in 2023 from 2022.

“Towards the end of last year it really started to take off, and it’s really not slowing down,” says Bell.

While Bell says he doesn’t like to use the word record when it comes to the food bank, they have had the highest number of users than ever before. In 2023, the number of family unit files increased from 516 to 709. This far into 2024, there are already 770 files.

The number of hampers being handed out on any given day has also increased. In 2023, the average number of hampers given out on a food bank day was 16-18. This year, they have averaged 27 hampers for each pickup day.

Bell says Food Banks Canada just recently did a survey to see why more people are utilizing the programs. He says there were a variety of reasons for people accessing the hampers, but he says from what he saw, the cost of mortgages, rent payments, and food costs are amongst the most common reasons.

He says that many of the people who are using the food bank are working families who just can’t make ends meet. With the cost of living continuing to be so high, Bell doesn’t believe that number will go down anytime soon.

“It’s not just a spike. It’s a growing trend,” he says.

But he says Drayton Valley is not alone.

“It’s pretty much the same across the board,” says Bell.

Right now, he says the food bank is considering how they can change their processes to try to streamline giving out hampers. With the higher demand for services, Bell says they may need to rethink how they prepare and distribute the hampers. 

The food bank in Drayton Valley is completely volunteer run, and Bell says the ones in place are working nearly full-time hours to make everything work. He says more volunteers would help the situation.

Bell says those who volunteer don’t have to be the ones handing out the hampers. He says they could use someone to help with their social media presence, shopping for groceries, or even completing some of the required paperwork for the organization.

“There are lots of different areas that people can help with,” says Bell.

While the volunteers are working extra hours to help the families, Bell says the community has been awesome with other support. He says the number of food donations and financial support has always been great, and the help they receive from the grocery stores in the area makes a big difference.

By By Amanda Jeffery, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Apr 11, 2024 at 11:13

This item reprinted with permission from   Free Press   Drayton Valley, Alberta

Comments are Welcome - Use the 'Join the Discussion' above any replies, or 'TheRegional / Chat' below replies. Both links take you to the same place. You will be asked to become a registered user if you are not one already - Posts are moderated