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Stampede committees compete to collect the most food for Calgary Food Bank

Calgary Stampede volunteers saddling up for the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth just two weeks away, took on an extra committee assignment on Tuesday.

Although the annual Saddle Up event is all about getting volunteers their accreditation two weeks before the start of the Stampede, along with having one last appreciation party, this year was about giving back in a different way.

The Calgary Food Bank partnered with the Calgary Stampede for the first annual Spaghetti Western food bank fundraiser, pitting the various committees in a friendly challenge against one another to give the most.

“The real winner here—as much as it’s getting competitive, and it’s kind of getting a little bit edge—the real winner here is of course, the Calgary Food Bank,” said Shannon Black, with the Agriculture and Western Events Media Committee.

“Really when the community comes and asks us, we have to deliver.”

As of 6 p.m., the volunteers had raised a combined $9,130 dollars for the Food Bank, and had collected hundreds of pounds of food.

“Growing up myself in a rural community, I think of the cowboy code and community and giving back and all of those things, and just really get see that personified tonight in the contributions that we’ve gotten,” said Melissa From, CEO of the Calgary Food Bank.

“The Calgary Stampede is such an incredible brand and force in our community so to be partnered with them and to have them want to work with us and partner with us in this way is just such a coup for us.”

Calgary Food Bank CEO Melissa From, left, and Calgary Stampede President and Board Chair Will Osler hold up a donation cheque for $9,130 for the food bank at the Calgary Stampede’s Saddle Up event at the Big Four Building in Calgary on Tuesday, June 20, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Events like the Spaghetti Western making a difference in Calgary

From said that every event that the Calgary Food Bank has held in the past pair of months since their May call for help has made a real difference.

“Calgary if nothing else is just one of the most philanthropic communities in the country, if not in the world, and so the response to that cry for help was met with the help that we needed,” she said.

In May, the wait time for emergency hampers had gone to 16 days in some cases, making it difficult for Calgarians in need to rely on the food bank for their nutritional needs.

Today, thanks to the support of the community, that number has dropped to between 10 and 12 days, which more closely matches the period that Calgarians can collect emergency hampers and the amount of food contained in those hampers, From said.

“We’ve been just slowly increasing our deliveries of those emergency food hampers and pulling that wait time back. We’re continuing to do those increases, but we’re continuing to need that support from the community,” said From.

Calgary Stampede President and Board Chair Will Osler said that he was proud that the Stampede was able to make a meaningful difference for the Calgary Food Bank.

“The need for their services is only getting bigger and they do such a fantastic job, and we’re happy to contribute in a very small way,” he said.

“Our volunteers when they get behind something, there’s a lot of them and they get behind in a big way. I’m watching them come in right now here at the Big Four and their arms are full and loaded up with stuff.”

Bonnie Clarke with the Western Performance Horse Committee, said that she donated in the theme of the event, bringing 10 boxes of spaghetti, tomatoes, tuna, and other canned goods.

“If anybody’s seen the prices in the grocery store, why wouldn’t she be involved,” she said.

For more details on how to donate to the Calgary Food Bank, and their current list of needs, see www.calgaryfoodbank.com.