Clearwater Food Bank gearing up for Christmas

A few weeks ago volunteers at Clearwater and District Food Bank learned about three cases of people living in their cars

Clearwater-Vavenby Legion Branch #259 representative Calvin Lutz (l) presents a $1

Clearwater-Vavenby Legion Branch #259 representative Calvin Lutz (l) presents a $1

A few weeks ago volunteers at Clearwater and District Food Bank learned about three cases of people living in their cars, according to food bank spokesperson Heather MacDonald.

“The housing situation here is terrible,” she said. “We need something happening in that department.”

Whether those affected were able to find warmer accommodation before the recent cold snap is not clear.

“This year it’s the kids who graduated a few years ago who are really suffering,” Stanley said. “Also, there are the seniors who are finding their pensions don’t stretch quite far enough.”

On the positive side, the usage at the food bank, although still high, is down slightly from last year. She attributed this to a somewhat better summer season, which allowed more people to get in enough weeks of work to qualify for Employment Insurance.

This year the food bank expects to give out about 120 Christmas hampers. Last year the number was 144.

Collection and distribution of the hampers will take place on Dec. 12 and 13 in the Dutch Lake Community Centre.

The food bank formerly used the gym at Raft River Elementary for the purpose but School District 73 has made it clear it expects to be paid this year for the use of the gym, plus the kitchen, classroom, custodial time and insurance.

Yellowhead Community Services and District of Clearwater are making the facilities at DLCC available without charge, Stanley said.

Numbers have stabilized this year but the two years before that saw Clearwater’s food bank’s usage increase faster than just about any other food bank in the province.

“We had huge numbers last year,” Stanley said. “It was just horrible. All year long it was horrible.”

There needs to be a community advocate based in Clearwater, she felt.

The Ministry of Social Development no longer has any social workers based here and so many people who could qualify for grants don’t get them because they either don’t know about them or need help filling in the paperwork.