Food insecurity in Canada is on the rise, with Alberta relying on food banks more than any other province. From 2019 to 2022, Food Banks Alberta reported a 73 per cent increase in usage – more than double the national average.
“One in five Albertans are experiencing food insecurity,” says Jason Lyver, Fund Development Manager for Food Banks Alberta. “As the cost of living along with food costs continue to rise, our local food banks are seeing more people accessing food banks for the first time.”
Of the 150,000 Albertans who accessed food banks in March 2022, 11 per cent were homeowners, 20 per cent were employed, and 57,750 were children – a 29 per cent increase since 2021.
The rising cost of living, along with inflation, have been contributing factors to the increase, and now food banks are seeing a decrease in donations despite a rise in demand. To help address these circumstances, Avenue Living Communities executed a food drive campaign over the recent holiday season to assist the communities in which Avenue Living Communities operates.
“As part of our commitment to give back to our communities, our goal for this campaign is to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those who need it the most. Our combined efforts can have a significant impact,” says Kelly Mahajan, Senior Vice President of Experience & Innovation at Avenue Living Communities.
From Nov. 21 to Dec. 16, Avenue Living Communities came together to support their local food banks. The program encouraged all Avenue Living Communities residents and employees to donate non-perishable foods or monetary contributions.
The four-week campaign helped alleviate some of the stress on those who would have gone hungry during this most special time of year. With over ten participating cities, Avenue Living Communities was able to raise a total of 6,119 pounds of non-perishable food and collected $2,650 for Food Banks in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.
Here is the breakdown of food donations by city:
Bonnyville: 35 lbs.
Calgary: 2,150 lbs.
Camrose: 25 lbs.
Edmonton: 1,511 lbs.
Lethbridge: 386 lbs.
Lloydminster: 30 lbs.
Medicine Hat: 178 lbs.
Moose Jaw: 202 lbs.
Prince Albert: 100 lbs.
Red Deer: 508 lbs.
Regina: 200 lbs.
Saskatoon: 250 lbs.
Swift Current: 110 lbs.
Wetaskiwin: 124 lbs.
Yorkton: 310 lbs.
TOTAL: 6,119 lbs.
In order to maximize the impact of the initiative, Avenue Living Communities then matched the monetary donations and also added a dollar for every pound of food donated. In the end, $11,469 was donated to help those in need.
Funds raised from corporate donations often help elevate the buying power for food banks.
“We're just able to do so much with the dollars raised because it has a better stretch with that bulk buying power,” says Lyver. “So, when corporations come on board and get engaged, then we're able to take those funds and really use it to lead, feed, and share.”
“Our contributions to food banks have had a positive impact all around, and we are eager to increase our efforts in 2023. We believe everyone should have access to food every day,” Mahajan says.
As food prices have reached a 41-year high, Avenue Living Communities is encouraging anyone who was not involved in the campaign to still donate to your local food banks.
For more information on how to donate, please visit foodbankscanada.ca/find-a-food-bank/