Once again this year, more families required the services of the Battlefords District Food and Resource Centre (BDFC) during the Christmas period.
This marked the third consecutive year that the Empty Stocking Fund (ESF) and the Share the Warmth programs saw an overall increase in usage from families and individuals who needed food, toys and winter clothing.
Executive Director Erin Katerynych said this trend of increasing numbers is worrisome but they are coping with the situation.
“We know there is struggling in our community and it is always concerning to see the need grow for the Empty Stocking Fund," Katerynych said. “I do believe we are handling it well and this year everything went off smoothly even with the increased numbers that came through our door.”
Overall the Empty Stocking Fund handed out 465 registered and unregistered hampers in 2017 as compared to 442 in 2016 and according to Katerynych with increases to utility rates and property taxes expected in 2018 those numbers may increase again this year.
“When you’re looking at a 3.5 per cent increase for your power bill and your landlord incurs another property tax increase which they may pass along to you to cover; it adds up,” Katerynych added. “Luckily we are in a very caring community that steps up and looks after those in need.”
The total number of adults who used the ESF rose slightly to 752 from 737 in 2016 the numbers for children increased dramatically in 2017. The total number of kids that received toys from the Empty Stocking Fund jumped from 643 in 2016 to 792 in 2017; an increase of nearly 23 per cent. In total 1,575 people were helped over Christmas through the generosity of others.
She also noted that unlike last year when contributions dropped off considerably after the holidays, this year the Battlefords District Food and Resource Centre are in reasonably good shape when it comes to non-perishable food items.
“Thanks to the generosity of the people of the Battlefords, we are holding our own as far as our non-perishables are concerned which is a huge relief,” she said. “We are always a bit short with the dairy and meat products and perishable food items but overall our shelves look good.”
She said the Share the Warmth campaign gave out 287 coats and 65 sets of ski pants so far this winter along with hundreds of toques, mittens and scarves. With nearly six to eight more weeks of cold winter weather expected Erin said there is a need for adult winter coats at this time.
Katerynych added donations and volunteers are always welcome to help out with their organization which is located at 1171 101 St. North Battleford.
On Twitter: @RJWtheReporter
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