More people than ever before are getting help with one of life’s basic needs at the Fort Saskatchewan Food Bank.
Volunteers at the local non-profit prepared 3109 food hampers in 2017, 29 percent more than the year before. The rise in demand came on the heels of a 43 percent increase from 2015-16.
"We are seeing people every month come to the food bank that have never had to utilize the food bank before,” said the organization's vice president, Kassandra Gartner.
The food bank is looking for a few items in particular to keep its shelves stocked, including dry pasta, canned meat (tuna, chicken and ham), peanut butter and canned vegetables such as corn, beans and mixed vegetables.
“Those are the things that we always seem to be running low on,” Gartner said, adding that although food donations are down this summer, monetary donations have been rising.  The financial support means the food bank can continue purchasing perishable products, such as meat, milk, eggs and fresh fruits and vegetables, to keep hampers complete.
“And then when we do get low on something like peanut butter, we are able to do a bulk purchase.”
During summer the food bank also accepts produce donations from backyard gardens and fruit trees.
“If someone has an excess of tomatoes or lettuce or whatnot, if they bring that in that goes into the hampers.”
Generous donations from the Fort Saskatchewan community mean the entirely volunteer-run organization can keep up with the growing need for its services. Anyone wanting to help out can bring donations to the food bank building or make a cash donation online at the food bank’s website. The food bank posts its most needed items every Monday on its Facebook page.
Wednesday's Taste of Summer Charity BBQ donated $815 to the food bank.

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