Setting the table

A volunteer stocks shelves at the Prince Albert Food Bank in this photo from 2016. -- Herald file photo.

With Christmas on the horizon, many Prince Albert residents have their minds on turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and an assortment of other holiday favourites.

However, the Prince Albert Food Bank is focusing on something a little more simple: making sure everyone has a meal to begin with.

The organization expects to hand out between 1,000 and 1,100 hampers of food this season. That represents roughly 3,000 people in total, with half of them being children.

Fortunately, food bank executive director Kim Scruby said they can rely on a strong group of local supporters.

“The spirit of the community here in P.A. is pretty overwhelming sometimes,” Scruby said. “We have people coming in individually (or) coming in through work and dropping off stuff constantly, especially this time of year. Demand is also higher this time of year, so it definitely helps.”

The food bank has seen a year-over-year increase in usage almost every month in 2018. With Christmas coming, that trend will likely continue.

Scruby said they’re always looking for traditional food bank staples, such as dry pasta, rice, cereal or non-perishable food items. However, the big need is for canned vegetables, to help provide food bank users with more nutritious options.

“In the summer time we get a lot of garden produce from people, but that time of year is pretty much passed,” Scruby explained. “Canned milk is another one that we don’t see a lot of, but it definitely comes in handy for our clients.”

The food bank will rely on several major events to help keep the shelves stocked this year. The big one is the 13th annual Ball Breaker campaign, which will be held on Dec. 13 at Lakeland Co-op from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Real Canadian Wholesale Club and Real Canadian Superstore have also teamed up to hold an in-store holiday food drive that runs until Christmas Eve, and fertilizer company Nutrien has once again agreed to match any monetary donations made to the food bank during the month of December. Scruby added that a number of other local businesses also hold food drives, but a full list is not yet available.