The Ponoka Food Bank is putting a call out to the community to let them know needs are at an all-time high.
In the past year, the number of food bank users increased to a level that is even higher than those seen pre-pandemic, according to Dean Hill, chairperson of the food bank’s board.
Although individuals and businesses in the town and county of Ponoka have been “superb” in their support of the food bank, they “wanted the community to know of the increased need,” said Hill.
In 2018, the food bank served 232 adults and 98 children, handing out 123 hampers in the months of April and May.
During those same months in 2023, 404 adults and 191 children were served and 197 hampers were provided.
“So quite a dramatic increase,” said Hill.
While the food bank’s needs are not yet at a critical level, there’s “no sign this is going to stop,” he said.
During the pandemic, there were less people using the food bank and more people giving, which allowed them to get ahead, however, that’s no longer the case.
The number of people the Ponoka Food Bank served dropped during the pandemic because there were a lot of programs and government assistance.
While there was a lot of awareness and people looking to give during the pandemic, there was also a sharp decline in community food drives as they weren’t practical during COVID.
Now, however, there is a lot more going out than coming in every month, said Hill.
The food bank also spends thousands of dollars each month to purchase needed items.
With the end of government programs, the sharp rise in inflation, the cost of living and interest rates, people who were doing OK before aren’t anymore, he said.
“There’s just a greater need,” said Hill. “It’s just been sharply rising since 2021.”
Hill wanted to recognize the food bank’s group of volunteers who divide and portion out products, weigh donations, fill out paperwork and put together food hampers.
“They’re working hard on a regular basis.”
Both food items and monetary donations are needed and appreciated, as funds allow them to shop for other needed items.
To donate, contact the food bank at 403-783-5910, or send an e-transfer to ponokafoodbank.shaw.ca.