Needs at the Ponoka Food Bank are increasing, although president Sybil Evans says the support from the community is “overwhelming” at times.
“We are fortunate to be well-supported by the community,” said Evans.
The number of people accessing the Ponoka Food Bank has risen significantly from last year to now.
For an example, in the first two weeks in November in 2018, the food bank gave away 26 hampers and helped 50 adults and 65 children.
In the same two weeks in 2019, the food bank gave away 63 hampers, helped 70 adults and 96 children.
The food donations received at the CP Holiday Train’s stop in Ponoka is always substantial and other donations received during the giving-peak of the year tend to last throughout the heavy usage month of December right until May.
Needs are generally higher in the winter months than in the summer, which tends to be reflected in an increase in donations, says Evans.
The food bank advises that non-perishable items that are more commonly used, such as tuna rather than oysters, are most appreciated.
The food bank also accepts personal items such as tooth brushes and deodorant as well as household items like toilet paper and cleaning supplies.
These items tend to be a high need at the food bank as people don’t tend to think about them as food bank items when they’re making donations so the food bank doens’t receive as many, says Evans.
Cash donations are also always appreciated, as the food bank does have operating costs such as rent and wages to pay.
They also use cash donations to buy perishable, fresh food items.
Those looking to receive a food hamper will need to show proof of residency in the town or county of Ponoka, by showing a rental or utility receipt, and will be asked about their financial situation.
There is also a free take-a-way area, where people in need can come and take fresh produce and staple items with no questions asked.
“Nobody is ever sent away hungry,” said Evans.
According to Evans, the Ponoka Food Bank was started by a group of concerned citizens in 1984.
It was meant to provide crisis intervention, and not as a long-term provider of food and that philosophy of sharing and volunteerism continues today, she says.
The Ponoka Food Bank doens’t give out Christmas hampers specifically, as Santa’s Anonymous already does that, but are open for business like usual for ongoing needs.
The food bank, located at Bay 6B 4612 50 St. (back entrance), is open on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on Wednesdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.