The Red Deer Food Bank is asking for support as the needs of the community outpace funding resources.   

“The Red Deer Food Bank is in an interesting place. People are making donations, but we are gathering about the same amount of food and donations to try and feed twice as many people,” Mitch Thomson, Red Deer Food Bank Executive Director said. “What that's done to us over the last two years is it's depleted our reserves.”   

The food bank has received capital grants and other funding, however, the funding is not for operations or food.  

“We expect to see about a $200,000 deficit this year, and so in order to keep the lights on and keep people fed, unfortunately, we have to ask the community to continue to give,” Thomson said.  

On average, about 3,000 people are utilizing the food bank’s emergency food hamper program each month, and up to 400 people come in everyday for supplemental food.  

Thomson explained that it’s common for the food bank to be on the cusp each year and dip into the reserve.   

“We had a lot of capital grants that allowed us to improve our facilities because the funds were restricted for those purposes based on grants,” he said. “What really is falling short is the funding for our operations and for the food we purchase.”  

While both federal and provincial governments have provided capital grants, they are not regular contributors to the food bank system.  

“We have received a little bit of money from the province to help purchase food in both 2022 and in 2023, but the $50,000 or the $110,000 that came one year versus the next year, really only helped for a couple of weeks,” Thomson said. “Then we're depending on the community to help us provide the other goods that we need to buy.”  

The food bank is building capacity for more fundraising efforts, hosting small events, and working with community partners.   

“The Red Deer Food Bank is trying to be innovative about how we do things. We recognized a few years ago that we needed to develop other revenue streams,” Thomson said.   

Funds raised from community markets, classes, programs, and donations will be allocated to support the operation of the food bank.   

“At the end of the day, we recognize that it is the caring, giving nature of regular citizens that keeps us going,” Thomson said. “We're just making people aware of how tight it really is, so that we can continue to do the good work that we try to do to help people in need.”  

He added, “We're doing all we can to generate income to support the growing need, and we truly appreciate everybody who considers participating, volunteering, or contributing if they can.”  

Going forward, the food bank will continue to accept clients and support rural food banks across Central Alberta.   

Thomson explained that in the past, to keep supporting clients, the food bank reduced what was available. However, the food bank has been operating at a reduced level for two years, and there isn’t much else that can be reduced and still be effective.   

“This really is us seeing some significant deficits that we cannot overcome without greater support, and we're letting people know so that we can be responsible for the resources and responsible to the communities we serve,” he said.