Lethbridge food banks prepare for uptick in demand as some government funding ends or changes



a store filled with lots of food: The Interfaith Food Bank in Lethbridge, Alta. is preparing for an increase in clients as government funding ends or changes in the coming months


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The Interfaith Food Bank in Lethbridge, Alta. is preparing for an increase in clients as government funding ends or changes in the coming months

Food banks in Lethbridge have been working hard to navigate what kind of demand they may see as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“We’ve been very lucky [that] our numbers have not been as high as we expected, mostly because people have been fortunate enough to be on government supports,” said Danielle McIntyre, the executive director at Interfaith Food Bank.

Read more: What we know so far about the CERB to EI transition

She said that as some of that provincial and federal aid starts to end or change, food banks are preparing for an increase in clients.

“We are now finally starting to see our numbers tick up, a lot of them because people have expended their time on CERB (Canada Emergency Response Benefit) and are rolling over to EI or other government supports if they are eligible,” McIntyre said.

“Some of them have expended that, so we are a little bit nervous about what we might see in the months to come.”

Not only are some food bank users dealing with a change in financial assistance, they are also dealing with a more expensive season.

Maral Kiani Tari is the executive director at the Lethbridge Food Bank. She said the colder months mean higher bills for more clients.

“Usually [in the] fall, we do see an increase in our numbers,” Kiani Tari said.

“It’s kind of a trend that we see with back to school, with increased expenses and utility bills as well as all the other expenses that come.”

Read more: Trudeau government should rethink EI as CERB winds down, labour group warns

Kiani Tari added that as people navigate the change in funding, food banks are expecting to see an increase in one-time or minimal-use clients.

“Just because it is a different year, there is a different level of stress in every family and in every household, and we’re here to support our families in any way we can,” Kiani Tari said.

The community organizations are gearing up for the busiest part of the year with many of their fall and Christmas fundraising campaigns needing to look a little different because of COVID-19. However, they are hopeful the monetary and food donations will continue.

Read more: Lethbridge organizations try to help vulnerable people during COVID-19 pandemic

They also want to remind those who might need their services that there is no need to go without.

“There is no shame in asking for help when you need it, and all kinds of people come to the food bank,” McIntyre said.

“Something I think that has become more evident is how quickly people can end up in a situation where they may need help. And a reminder that judgement is something we should put on the back burner right now.”

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