Nobody has to tell anyone living in Alberta that it's been a long, harsh winter, but for the Airdrie Food Bank and the people who make use of their services, it's been especially hard.

Executive Director Lori McRitchie says this winter has brought record numbers of people to the food bank.  "January was a little bit lower than last January but February and March have been record numbers for us.  They're talking recovery from the recession and things like that.  That's not what we're seeing at this time."

McRitchie believes that there is a specific demographic in the city that's continuing to struggle.  "That's people who haven't been able to replace the jobs they lost.  They may have had limited hours at work or bills outside of their usual bills, things like added utility bills or higher utility bills.  For people who are living close to the edge, makes it very difficult.  We're still seeing many families in particular struggling, and we know that because of the number of children who are included in our hamper numbers."

McRitchie says that 47 out of every 100 people who come in for hampers are children, which is very different from when McRitchie started with the food bank a few years ago when the majority of clients were couples of single people.

McRitchie can't predict if the increase in food bank users is a long-term trend or simply an anomaly because of the hard winter.

"It's anybody's guess.  What happened last year was January, February and March stayed parallel to the incredibly busy year that was 2016 when we saw the big hit of the recession and all of the oil company jobs being lost.  Then in the second quarter, we started to see a decrease, I think the maximum month was about eight percent which was significant and we said, 'oh good, things are recovering.'  In the third quarter of last year, we saw our numbers rise up again to meet the numbers from the year previous.  In the fourth quarter we saw an increase and now in the first quarter of 2018 we're seeing a significant increase."

McRitchie believes, despite the increased numbers, the food bank will continue to be able to meet the need in the community.  However, to that belief, she adds a "but."  "But, we take in the majority of our donations at Christmastime and we stock them until we use them all up.  So what typically happens is we start to run out of items in March, April, and May and then we start to purchase.  Our donations are much lower in the first and second quarters than they are at Christmastime.  We are seeing that now and we are starting to run out of items."

Food banks don't just assist people at Christmas, says McRitchie, but throughout the year,  "People struggle every month for lots of different reasons.  We continue to look to our community to help meet those needs."

Questions, comments or story ideas? Email us at [email protected]

More Local News

Airdrie MLA and NDP Minister End Up In A Twitter War

The back and forth bickering between the Alberta NDP and the United Conservative Party hit Airdrie recently.

Blood Clinics Held As Often As Possible in Communities Like Airdrie

After a story on Discover Airdrie last Monday (July 16th) an Airdrie resident questioned the blood shortage being experienced during the summer and asked if Canadian Blood Services had ever tried to…

Airdrie Man Charged Following Border Seizure

An Airdrie man has been charged and arrested following a seizure at the border by members of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

Supplies 4 Success is Back!

The Supplies 4 Success program is back for another year.

Man Locks Himself Inside Shell Gas Station Following Vandalism

A man has been arrested after a stange incident that took place right on Main Street.

Construction on Yankee Valley Nearing Completion

The construction on Yankee Valley between Bayside Gate and 24th street is almost wrapped up.

Town of Carstairs Continues to See Growth

The town of Carstairs has continued to see growth in its residential and commercial sector year after year.

The Hot Dog Effect

Humans aren't the only ones that are being affected by the warm weather.

Summer Sparks Blood Product Shortage

Let's face it, during the summer we are all less disciplined. Our regimes all take a bit of a hit. Exercising, eating right, getting to bed on time are often put on the back burner.

Block Parents Makes a Comeback in Airdrie

For over a decade Block Parents, the once popular and important group where members opened their doors for children in need, went dark in Airdrie.

DiscoverWestman.com is Westman's only source for community news and information such as weather and classifieds.

Search the Biz Guide

Login