Calgary Food Bank use ‘worse than Christmas’


As Canada’s economy continues to falter, demand at the Calgary Food Bank has grown to levels “worse than Christmas.”

The number of clients who used the service in on way or another between September 2015 to July 2016 climbed to 157,000 — that’s up from 130,361 last year.

And it gets worse.

More than 60,500 hampers have been taken — that’s up almost 10,000 over the previous year.

And the most telling statistic of all: first-time users are up more than 60,000.

D.D. Coutts, spokeswoman for the Food Bank, understands the daily grind people are going through.

“People are feeling hopeless, and that’s hard to battle,” she said.

“Hunger is one thing, but hopelessness is something else.”

Reflecting on the demand for help, she said: “It’s worse than Christmas.”

The Calgary Food Bank saw this influx coming two months ago, but administrators are taken aback by how deep the impact is.

Even with a provincial government trying to bolster income for Canadans by increasing the minimum wage, Coutts said the challenges are of a bigger scope.

“While $15 minimum wage is a good idea, it’s not going to help this problem,” Coutts said.

With news on the job front getting worse seemingly on a monthly basis, Coutts said she knows Calgarians who aren’t feeling the pinch will come up big, as they have always have.

“We can’t believe the generosity of neighbours, who have either been there before, and have come out the other side. People who can step up, do, (Calgary is) an amazing city for that,” she said.

The latest Food Bank numbers come on the heels of a dismal job report from Statistics Canada that shows Canada’s unemployment rate jumped sharply in July, rising 0.7 points to 8.6% — its highest level in nearly 22 years.

At the local level, Calgary’s unemployment rate was also 8.6%, up 0.3 points from June, and the highest among Canadian cities listed by Statistics Canada.

— With files from the Canadian Press

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