Edmonton food charities seeing more clients amid rising inflation, increased costs

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With Alberta facing inflation as well as disruptions in supply chains and the ongoing issues with the COVID-19 pandemic, two of Edmonton food charity programs say the hardest hit are their clients.

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In terms of interruptions in supplies, Tim Hanson, fund development manager for Meals on Wheels Edmonton, said that they have a few commercial suppliers so if one comes up short the others can substitute or get the same product in a couple of days.

Similarly, Tamisan Bencz-Knight, a spokeswoman with Edmonton’s Food Bank, said that they plan ahead for cost increases or supply delays.

“We’ve been sourcing turkeys since June now and making sure we have as much resources available in advance. Realistically we do a lot of planning ahead,” said Bencz-Knight.

What is being seen is an increase in clients.

“Peoples’ job stability and how the economy is looking is kind of hitting people. We’re kind of in a bit of a bind where our client base is swelling,” said Hanson.

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Hanson said they now have thousands of clients who need their services, averaging 40-45 deliveries every day of around 400-450 meals per day. This is putting more volunteers out on the roads and more people volunteering to help out in the kitchen.

Bencz-Knight has noticed something similar.

“What we’ve noticed is that the people that were really hurting before, it’s gotten worse for them. That is the biggest challenge, someone who might only have needed our help a couple of times last year need us more this year. It feels like it’s kicking somebody when they’re down, the people who are really struggling are uber struggling now,” Bencz-Knight said.

Adding to the pressure of the increasing cost of food and gas is a decrease in donations. Someone who may normally donate $100 may only be able to donate $50 now. And money from donors does not buy as much food as previously.

Both organizations praise the generosity of the people in the city who are really helping.

“There was a huge influx of goodwill from the community and first-time donors helping out however they can. We’ve been really lucky that the community has continued to step up. It’s really been amazing,” said Hanson.

“We’re very fortunate and humbled that Edmontonians are very, very good to us,” said Bencz-Knight.

To donate, go to mealsonwheelsedmonton.org/pages/donate and edmontonsfoodbank.com/donate-now/


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