CERB and tourism curb summer food bank demand

Masha Scheele

After an enormous spike in food bank demand right after the pandemic hit Alberta in the spring, it dropped during summer months below last year’s average numbers.

“I think between the tourism industry being pretty strong in the last half of summer, which means the part time employees are getting lots of hours making beds at hotels or pumping gas, and the fact that CERB is still active, we have low numbers,” said Bernie Kreiner, chairperson of the food bank.

Families in need of the food bank throughout summer months were lower than expected, which was great news, Kreiner said.

Numbers in the spring were around 80 to 85 families per week, which dropped down below 50 in late June. Fifty families per week was last year’s average.

There were around 60 new families within the first 60 days after mid-March. Kreiner noted that when people realized CERB was going to continue providing funds, they went out to do their own grocery shopping.

In some cases CERB was sent out to people on Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH), which they will have to pay back at some point.

“There were some early mistakes made,” Kreiner said.

The food bank expects to see a rise of families in need of the food bank, but the question remains as to when and how many.

As CERB winds down, Kreiner expects the demand to pick up again. So far into September, demand remains similar compared to July and August.

The food bank appreciated the extraordinary donations in early pandemic months, which were necessary to meet increased demand. The food bank building is located on 124 Market Street and is open on Tuesday evenings. 

Food hampers for those who are sick or in self isolation will still be available through contacting the Food Bank at 780-865-6256.