Albertans have been facing tough times right now. With inflation and the cost of living continuing to rise, it can mean families are unable to pay for groceries. A new HungerCount report was released by Food Banks Canada. It says there were 1.5 million visits to food banks last March. That was a 15 per cent jump from the same month last year and 35 per cent higher than in March of 2019. As for Albertans, we accessed food banks more than double the national rate compared to pre-pandemic levels. Just under 157,000 Albertans accessed a food bank in March of this year. That is a 34 per cent increase compared to 2021.
Arianna Scott, the CEO of Food Banks Alberta says close to 58,000 children use food banks annually and around 45 per cent of Albertans that use food banks are families. She says times have been tough for a number of Albertans.
“When all of our citizens struggle, it trickles down. And so it impacts our children. Whether it’s a senior who is experiencing food insecurity or a middle aged person, it’s impacting the children in our province. And as that trickle down effect happens, so if a senior is experiencing it, their children may take them in, which puts their family at a greater food insecure position. It’s not an isolated to rural or urban situation. It is across the province. It is the whole province. And therefore we have to look at it from a provincial perspective and treat it as such.”
The report also says that one in five Albertans are experiencing food insecurity. Close to 60 per cent of rural food bank users receive government assistance like AISH or the Canada Pension Plan.