Feel good about your information and become a local news champion today

Evanston and Panorama called upon to help end food insecurity through Tackle Hunger campaign

This year, for the Purolator Tackle Hunger campaign, residents of Evanston and Panorama will be asked to do their part to end food insecurity in Calgary.

The campaign, which sees red bags handed out to residents of those communities—starting on July 22 in Evanston, and August 19 in Panorma—will be collected to help address growing need for food hampers for the hungry provided by the Calgary Food Bank.

“The Purolator Tackle Hunger program is a grassroots initiative that was started by our employees 20 years ago, and today it continues to be driven by our employees passion for helping their local communities,” said Cindy Bailey, Corporate Sustainability Officer for Purolator.

Bailey said that since the campaign began, employees have been able to collect over 20 million pounds of food for food banks across the country, and this year the goal set by those Purolator volunteers was to collect two million pounds of food.

In Calgary, a total of 10,000 red bags will be handed out to the two communities to be filled.

“This year, the need has risen dramatically, and we need to raise even more. That’s why we’re running our campaign in two neighbourhoods this year, on two different weeks so that we can deliver more red bags to the food bank than ever before,” said Bailey.

“Our goal this year is to have all 10,000 bags filled. We know that by working together with even more volunteers, and the support of Calgary residents, we can make this happen.”

Purolator drivers will be returning to Evanston on July 29, and to Panorama on August 26 to collect the bags to be delivered to the Calgary Food Bank.

The shipping company is also asking interested Calgarians not in those communities, that have the means to do so, to get involved at www.purolator.com/en/purolator-tackle-hunger.

Demand is like a a sold out McMahon Stadium every month

In May of this year, the Calgary Food Bank saw dramatic increase year-over-year in the demand for emergency food hampers. In that month, the organization distributed 13,000 emergency food hampers, which was a 53 per cent increase over May of 2022.

June saw an even larger increase at more than 14,000 hampers distributed.

Melissa From, CEO of the Calgary Food Bank, said that the typical patterns of need have been flipped around.

“Our summer months are typically our slowest months, as people have access to more fresh produce and things like that in the community. Stampede in particular is typically our slowest week as there’s a lot of pancake breakfasts and community barbecues,” she said.

“What we have seen this year is not reflective of what our historic data has shown us previously. In those previous years where Stampede Week would be one of our slowest weeks, it was actually our busiest week so far this year. That is definitely indicative of the increases in demand that we’re seeing.”

Over the Stampede there were hundreds of hampers handed out daily, which From said was a reflection of the stresses that Calgarians are facing financially.

“Last week, I saw that Bank of Canada interest rate increase, and every time we see one of those people’s mortgages go up, other payments go up, that’s a little bit less money they can spend on food,” she said.

“Food is the one line item in most household budgets that has at least a little bit of flexibility, and so it just keeps getting eaten away at.”

The food bank has continued to see the numbers of working individuals and families increase in terms of percentages of people requiring hampers.

Another group that has led to increased demand is evacuees from Ukraine, who have turned to the food bank to fill gaps in social assistance.

Calgary Food Bank Volunteer Sam Jones said that despite that demand, she is able to see the impact that handing out emergency food hampers makes every day.

“The other day I actually had an opportunity to watch a woman hug one of our volunteers because she was so overwhelmed with joy just receiving a hamper of food. But for me though, what I think is more important is the lasting impact that we have on people here,” Jones said.

What looks like a lot of food, often isn’t anymore

From said that the traditional pattern of Calgarians giving over Thanksgiving and Christmas, and expecting those donations to last through the spring is no longer a reality.

“The reality is that those massive food drives that we do from September to December, don’t even carry us through to March anymore,” she said.

“We have to find new and innovative ways to continue those seasons of philanthropy through different times of the year to make sure that we can feed people—because the reality is hunger isn’t seasonal.”

She said that is one reason why this year’s Tackle Hunger campaign is so important.

“What’s so awesome about the partnership is how we can come to them and we can say like this is what we’re seeing, these are the problems we’re facing and we can work together to find solutions like this.”

Calgary Stampeders defensive end James Alan Vaughters, who is an ambassador for the Tackle Hunger campaign this year, said that his message to Calgarians was that it is a beautiful thing when people who have the means to assist can help those who do not.

“The most important thing for someone like me who’s blessed to be able to have something to give, I think the best thing we can do is just try to give back and pay that blessing forward,” he said.

For more information on the Calgary Food Bank, see www.calgaryfoodbank.com.