Out of 37 food banks across the Saskatchewan, the one in La Ronge is the sixth busiest overall.
That’s according to information released to the public Oct. 22 at the Lac La Ronge Food Bank’s annual general meeting, where board members came together to discuss the yearly ongoings of the organization. According to the 2018 March Hunger Count, which determines how much funding the group receives from Food Banks of Saskatchewan, the only places busier than La Ronge (707 people served) are Saskatoon (15,291), Regina (5,851), Prince Albert (2,458), Battlefords (2,050) and Moose Jaw (784).
“We draw from a larger region even though the population of La Ronge isn’t that great,” Chairperson Bonnie Werner said about why La Ronge ranks so high. “We have families who come in from Sucker River, Hall Lake and Stanley Mission because their communities aren’t able to provide this service.”
Other reasons for high food bank usage in La Ronge includes the high cost of rent in the North, heating bills in the winter, seasonal scarcity of funds and households will a large number of people. Werner noted all of those issues impact an individual’s capacity to provide food for their family, adding the food bank is focused on stepping in for those people and providing an emergency supply of food.
Werner also said clients are only able to use the food bank once every four weeks as the organization is operated completely with volunteers and without federal, provincial, municipal or band funding. In the 2017-2018 fiscal year, the food bank received close to $68,000 in donations with the highest portion coming from individuals. Werner noted supporters of the organization also donate food items through the year and residents can do so Oct. 27 if they wish during the La Ronge Elks annual food drive.
“The Elks are incredibly energetic, and they will go out with four or five guys in each truck and go door-to-door,” she said. “We can collect as much as 5,000 pounds of food. This whole building will just be hopping.”
Other highlights during the meeting were included in Secretary Trudy Connor’s report, which states the food bank is actually busier than reflected in the March Hunger Count with 707 individuals. Between May and August 2018, the average worked out to 820 people per month consisting of 445 adults and 375 children. Conner said it’s worrisome up to half of the food bank’s clients are under 18 as children need healthy food for growth and development.
“About 5,275 pounds of food were given out per month over this same four-month period, which we still find quite astonishing,” she said.
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