Yellowknife Food Bank continues to see increased demand since returning from the evacuation

The Yellowknife Food Bank is giving out around 500 bags of groceries a week.    (Kate Kyle/CBC - image credit)
The Yellowknife Food Bank is giving out around 500 bags of groceries a week. (Kate Kyle/CBC - image credit)

The Yellowknife Salvation Army food bank saw its usage more than double after people returned from the wildfire evacuation last summer — and months later the pressure is still there.

Before the evacuation the food bank served around 50 to 60 families per week. Now, it's serving 100 to 120 families weekly.

Salvation Army program manager Derek Pluchinski said inflation, utility costs during colder months, and the financial strain caused by the evacuation are some of the reasons more people are turning to the food bank.

"Everything has an accumulative effect on people's expenses, and there's only so many dollars that they have," he said.

The Salvation Army has has already spent more on the food bank than it had budgeted for the fiscal year ending in March. 

A portion of funding for the food bank comes from the thrift store the Salvation Army operates. It was closed for three months during last summer due to flooding.

"It's just been a year of increased needs and local disasters for us," said Tony Brushett, the executive director of the Yellowknife Salvation Army.

Despite the financial pressures the food bank is facing, Brushett said that everyone who needs a food hamper is still getting them.

"We're not going to have somebody come to the door and we send them away hungry because we don't have food," he said.

The food bank is giving out about 120 hampers on average per week. The size of the hamper depends on whose asking for it. Individuals get smaller hampers, while other families can get hampers with three to six or seven bags of groceries in them. In all it adds up to about 500 bags of groceries per week.

"Seeing the people who come in here everyday, some of them we know 100 per cent will not eat if we don't have the food bank there," said Brushett.

Eric Rosbottom has used the food bank for about a year, and visits it once a month. 

"It really helps out with the way inflation is right now, I've even noticed too, like the lineups down there are getting longer and longer each month," he said.

Rosbottom said the food bank helps put food on the table for him and his daughter. He began to use it after a work related injury, and a subsequent lay off.

"Going there helps facilitate with extra foods and grains and pastas and what not. And coffee and stuff like that. So it really does help out," he said.