Alberta's food banks head into holidays with an eye on demand — and mental health

·1 min read

Food banks across the province regard the holiday season as being among their most important periods — and that will be doubly felt in what has been a difficult year for many Albertans.

"[Food banks] are a little bit worried, because this time of year is certainly our largest food and fundraising period," said Arianna Scott, senior project manager for Food Banks Alberta. "With the restrictions in place, it makes it very difficult to run food drives and volunteer-based activities and fundraising activities.

"But I think that, overwhelmingly, they are here and they are ready to serve."

Scott said 75 per cent of the 99 food bank members represented by Food Banks Alberta are reporting a week-over-week increase in clients — and as volunteers brace for what could come between six and 18 months from now, human resources is a big priority.

Submitted by Arianna Scott
Submitted by Arianna Scott

"One of the things we're really focused on with our food banks is making sure they are taking care of their human resources," Scott said.

"We're trying to make sure that they're setting boundaries with them, and working clear hours and allowing staff and volunteers to take time off as well."

James McAra, CEO of the Calgary Food Bank, said the organization is seeing an eight per cent increase in clients week after week, but overall is doing well.

"For us, well means that we think we've got the support," McAra said. "So it's going to be food, it's going to be volunteers, it's going to be funds — we've got that in place."

After the pandemic hit, many food banks experienced increased demand and shortages of food, volunteers and funding.