Executive Director of the Grande Prairie Salvation Army Food Bank Captain Peter Kim says that there are more people needing assistance from the foodbank now than ever before. Kim says that in 2021 12,777 people used the food bank, which is 19 per cent of the Grande Prairie population, with just under half of those being kids under the age of 18.
“So that works out to 5,622 children last year were recipients of food from our foodbank,” Kim says.
He explains that those numbers are a huge increase from previous years when the food bank typically would serve 5,000 to 6,000 people. Kim says that there are several reasons for people needing to use the food such as lack of income, and some are on assisted living.
“Others have no means to be able to take care of both the rent and/or mortgage payments and food on the table because of the increasing food costs and the rise in gas.”
Kim says that an example of the continued increase in need can be seen in the number of meals that are made in their community kitchen. From 2016 to 2020 on average 30,000 to 33,000 meals, and in 2021 that number severely increased by 40,000 meals.
“But we are already at the end of August 58,000 meals, and are anticipating to be at 88,000 meals by the end of this year,” Kim explains.
Earlier this week, Food Banks Canada released its annual report which showed that almost 1.5 million people across the country visited the food bank in March of 2022. That was a 15 per cent increase from 2021 and a 34 per cent increase from 2019. Food bank usage across the province saw a 34 per cent increase from 2021 to 2022, with 54 per cent of those users being kids. In March alone 58,000 kids in Alberta relied on food banks across the country.