The holiday season is quickly approaching, and with only two weeks left until Christmas, volunteers at Saskatchewan food banks are hard at work.
“We see a huge influx over our Christmas fundraising season which is great. It’s such a great time of year to feel that generous spirit and to support local charities,” said Laurie O’Connor, executive director of the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre.Laurie O’Connor is the executive director of the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre. (Victoria Dinh/CBC)
Over the past six months, according to O’Connor, there has been a large increase in people turning to the food bank’s services. She said between 17,000 and 18,000 people per month are in need of a food basket — that works out to about 4,100 people every week.
Based on data collected in March of this year in Saskatoon, in the annual HungerCount report by Food Banks Canada, the numbers are as follows:
- Increase in individual usage of 22 per cent over last year.
- 43.7 per cent of clients are children under the age of 18.
- 29.38 per cent are from a lone-parent family.
- Seniors are 4.7 per cent of all adults.
- Post-secondary students are 7.4 per cent of all adults.
- Immigrants and refugees are 9.7 per cent of all adults.
- Over 9 per cent of clients receive provincial disability income assistance.
- Over 7 per cent of clients have no source of income whatsoever.
- Around 7 per cent of clients do not have a permanent address.
“A quarter of those people [using our services] are actually working full-time minimum wage jobs and not able to make ends meet,” said O’Connor. “That’s very concerning for us.”
Although there is an influx of food collected around this time of year, the food bank is still accepting donations.
Top 5 wish list
With help from the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre, here is a list of the top 5 most wanted items to donate:
1. Canned protein Canned meats and beans are among the top items asked for by the food bank. (Victoria Dinh/CBC)
2. Canned fruits and vegetables Canned fruits and vegetables are some of the nutritious non-perishable food items asked for. (Victoria Dinh/CBC)
3. Pasta and canned sauce The food bank in Saskatoon is currently running low on donations of pasta. (Victoria Dinh/CBC)
4. Whole grain cereal The bin of whole grain cereals collected at the food bank in Saskatoon. (Victoria Dinh/CBC)
5. Infant formula One of the most needed items donated includes baby formula. (Victoria Dinh/CBC)
Comfort and Joy campaign supports food banks
This Friday, CBC Saskatchewan and CBC Saskatoon, in collaboration with the Food Banks of Saskatchewan, will be hosting the 15th annual CBC/Radio-Canada Comfort and Joy campaign. An open house will take place and listeners will be able to catch a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the magic.
Admission for the Comfort and Joy holiday open house is free but cash and food donations are welcome.
Donate anytime online or call the pledge lines 1-800-567-8008 on Dec. 11 from 6 a.m.- 10 p.m. and Dec.12 and 13 from 6 a.m.- 9 a.m.