Shining a light on those who are hungry

Stephen Dunbar-Edge and the 55 volunteers who spend their time at the Whitehorse Food Bank every month don't need Hunger Awareness Week. They are well aware of the problem. They see hunger every day.

Stephen Dunbar-Edge and the 55 volunteers who spend their time at the Whitehorse Food Bank every month don’t need Hunger Awareness Week.

They are well aware of the problem. They see hunger every day.

In the month of March a total of 571 households were given emergency food by the food bank. That’s 1,256 people, including 403 children younger than 18.

Today marks the end of Hunger Awareness Week, a national campaign spearheaded by Food Banks Canada.

It also happens to coincide with executive director Dunbar-Edge’s annual release of local statistics around who uses the Whitehorse Food Bank’s services.

“People tend to often make assumptions about the people that are coming here. These statistics throw any kind of preconceived notion about our clients out the window,” he said this week.

The hard data revealed a few significant things, Dunbar-Edge said.

First, 47 per cent of the people who use the food bank are living in a private rental. That means they’re not in social housing or band-owned homes, and they’re not living with friends or owning their own home.

People in social housing represent about 16 per cent of the client base.

“So that’s pretty significant and it might be a bit of an indicator of people not being able to make ends meet. Do I keep a roof over my head, or do I eat?” Dunbar-Edge said.

That number has increased about six per cent over last year.

The numbers show that 11 per cent of the people who use the food bank are employed.

“This is where their only source of income is employment. It could be anything from part time to multiple full-time jobs,” Dunbar-Edge said.

Overall use has increased seven per cent. Dunbar-Edge said that represents a stabilization. Numbers skyrocketed for the first few years after the food bank opened in 2009.

“Now I’m now going to see little bits of increases and little bits of decreases unless something major happens in the Yukon,” he said.

The food bank is for emergency situations, when people are in crisis, Dunbar-Edge said. The public perception of the same person getting food every day is not the reality.

Hampers can be picked up once a calendar month and contain about three days worth of food, he said.

“Even though our clients may have been registered here for three years, only 10 per cent of that client base comes to see me every month.”

What’s more likely are clients coming in for short periods of crisis. The bulk of the clients come six or seven times a year.

“People need to eat every day, so I don’t know that that’s going to change,” Dunbar-Edge said.

“But what I do know is that the people that are utilizing the food bank are treating it as an emergency food situation.”

As part of this week’s events, students from the local schools handed out green apples on the street.

The fruit is a symbol of the Green Apple Club. That’s a group of Yukoners who have agreed to donate money on a monthly basis.

Currently there are about 300 people who donate at least $10 a month.

Dunbar-Edge wants to get that number up to 500.

That would allow all of the organization’s monthly operating costs to be covered so that the focus could shift to expanding services, he said.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25 after two masked men entered a residence, assaulted a man inside with a weapon and departed. (Black Press file)
Two men arrested after Dawson City home invasion

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25.… Continue reading

Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn speaks to reporters at a news conference in Whitehorse on Dec. 21, 2017. New ATIPP laws are coming into effect April 1. (Chris Windeyer/Yukon News file)
New access to information laws will take effect April 1

“Our government remains committed to government openness and accountability.”

City council meeting in Whitehorse on Feb. 8. At Whitehorse city council’s March 1 meeting, members were presented with a bylaw that would repeal 10 bylaws deemed to be redundant or out of date. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Out with the old

Council considers repealing outdated bylaws

A bobcat is used to help clear snow in downtown Whitehorse on Nov. 4. According to Environment Canada, the Yukon has experienced record-breaking precipitation this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon will have “delayed spring” after heavy winter snowfall

After record levels of precipitation, cold spring will delay melt

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted online. (Black Press file)
Yukon youth being extorted online

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted on… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

Most Read