Evacuee Support: New Edmontonians & Ongoing Help
Edmonton’s Food Bank works alongside the network of emergency evacuee relief organizations during disasters and times of need. Food resources are available to all Edmontonians as well as any evacuee joining us in Edmonton.
While some people access services directly from Edmonton’s Food Bank, we are a central warehouse and referral centre for 230 agencies, churches, and food depots. In May 2016, we provided food hampers to 23,681 people (up from 15,592 in May 2015), in addition to providing food for nearly 500,000 meals and snacks.
We started providing services to Ft. McMurray evacuees and other organizations/communities serving evacuees on May 4, 2016. Edmonton’s Food Bank has provided food, both directly and indirectly, to thousands of evacuees.
Some of our Work:
• We have been distributing 100 to 150 hampers each day to evacuees from our warehouse. This number does not include evacuees served at the Salvation Army and our other affiliates.
• Food shipments were sent to the communities of Ft. McMurray, Morinville, Lac La Biche, Bonnyville, Athabasca, and Boyle.
• Food was given to and exchanged with City Evacuation Centres and the Emergency Relief Centre.
• Baby Formula was given to families, distribution centres, etcetera when the Norwalk Virus broke out in the Evacuation Centres.
December 2016 – Anywhere between 10,000-20,000 people remain displaced, unable to return to the Wood Buffalo area (Fort McMurray). Many have settled into the new communities where they were evacuated. Stories of successful integration of families and individuals include those who have found jobs, rental housing, and schools for their children; however, not all evacuees have been so fortunate. Fort McMurray’s homeless population are among those evacuated and they continue to experience homelessness in their new communities as evidenced by Edmonton’s increased homeless population. This, sadly, tells us that the most vulnerable members of the Wood Buffalo area have not returned and remain displaced and destitute. Other concerns include cases of family separation where one family member returns to their pre-fire job while all the other family members, including children, remain in other communities such as Edmonton. Our affiliate inner city agencies, which provide various community services, including meal and snack programs, have seen this increase first hand. These are ongoing challenges, for many, which will remain for months to come.
“It can take time to deploy or ensure resources are available during emergencies. Edmonton’s Food Bank has the warehouse and food support that can be deployed immediately if needed,” said Marjorie Bencz, CM, Executive Director of Edmonton’s Food Bank. “The most vulnerable have not returned back to Fort McMurray and have remained in Edmonton. Edmonton’s Food Bank is committed to ensuring that these individuals and families are supported.”