The Grande Prairie Salvation Army has asked Grande Prairie city council for $200,000 to help with the food crisis in the city. Executive Director Captain Peter Kim says the food bank has seen a staggering increase in need with 19 per cent of the population using it in 2021 and that is expected to be up in 2022.
If approved, Kim says the funds will go towards buying grocery cards to support their families.
“The reason why we have to go with gift cards is we simply do not have enough food in our warehouse to meet the demands,” Kim says. “So we decided to add another level of dignity by letting people have a choice of what they put in their own kitchen and pantry.”
Kim explains that they also are seeing a decrease in donations, and this was seen during the Rotary Community Food Drive, which is a vital part of their food collection for the year. He says that on average have brought in 45 tons over the years, but with the virtual food drive in 2020 and 2021 not as much was brought in.
“We got back to a physical door-to-door campaign this year where we brought in 31 tons. So that is 15 tons short of our average, but again with the rising demand, that is still short of what we need.”
Kim adds an example of the current need is the substantial increase in meals served at the Community Kitchen. In 2020 the kitchen gave out a total of 43,000, with that number already surpassed in 2022, with 53,000 meals leaving the kitchen as of August. Kim says that they expect to serve 88,000 meals by the end of the year.
City council has referred the request to their 2023 budget session, but Kim says the need is immediate.