Agency sees rise in need for hampers
Demand by local families in need has depleted The Salvation Army Food Bank to the point they are having trouble keeping up. For the first time in many years, shelves at the institution that has helped hundreds of families over the years, are getting bare. Captain Bram Pearce says it is not due to lack of donations, but the increased demand in 2008 has dwindled supplies. Yola Dyck has worked at the food bank for 13 years and says never has she seen such demand. They estimate the number of clients has gone up by 25 per cent since January. “There are more clients than ever before,” said Dyck. Dave Graham of The Salvation Army says there are a number of reasons for demand. People have seen reduced hours at their job, which has made it more difficult for families to make ends meet,
as well as the increased cost of living. The wet spring also kept labourers in the energy sector out of work for longer than anticipated. Another scenario Graham sees is families moving to Drumheller hoping for a new start, but find their funds are being used up before getting established. Last year around this time the food bank distributed about 40 hampers per month. So far in the month of June they have already given out well more than 50. Graham says for the first time in four years he had to go shopping for the food bank. ‘I had to buy stuff that I never needed to buy before,” said Graham. Captain Pearce says the office typically had a contingency fund where they could help families with emergency expenses. They no longer have funds for that program. Pearce adds The Salvation Army has had to work with its clients more to make sure the resources are going towards where it is needed most. This means a more intensive interviewing process. Some of the items most needed according to Dyck are powdered and condensed milk, canned fruits and vegetables, canned tomatoes, spaghetti, rice cereal and 500ml peanut butter jars and jam. Graham underlines Drumheller always has, and continues to be a very generous place, and donations have not dwindled, it is because of the demand they have ended out short. “I have lived from Vancouver to Toronto, and I have never seen, per capita, people come even this close to being as generous as people in Drumheller,” he said.