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Calgary Food Bank annual City-Wide Food Drive looks to shore up gains made to end food insecurity

Over the past month, Calgary Food Bank volunteers have been delivering compostable bags to more than 400,000 homes, with the goal of collecting tens of thousands of pounds of food during the 19th annual City-Wide Food Drive.

This Saturday, Sept. 23, more than 8,000 food bank volunteers will be canvassing the city to collect those bags—hopefully filled with the over 500,000 lbs. of food needed to help support efforts to keep providing quality emergency food hampers this fall.

“The reality is that as a nonprofit, we have finite resources, and yet we don’t have stagnant demand. The demand is growing, and understandably so, yet there’s just only so much to go around it. Sometimes, if I’m being really honest, that does put us in a position of potentially having to make hard decisions,” said Melissa From, CEO of the Calgary Food Bank.

“An event like this, where we’re really rallying the community for support and raising that awareness, can go such a long way to alleviating some of those pain points for us, not having to make those hard decisions, and making sure we can feed everyone who comes to our door.”

Making strides to end food insecurity

Over the summer, the Calgary Food Bank has worked hard to make tangible gains to improve upon the dire situation that Calgarians found themselves in just months ago, where a lack of food supplies and a desperate need for donations meant that waiting times for emergency hampers reached 15 days.

Now that time has been reduced to just three days, something that From said was helping to make sure that hungry people don’t need to go hungry.

“If you were to call today, you’re not going to wait any longer than three days. In some cases, we’re even getting folks in quicker than that,” she said.

“Through the summer months, folks are away. Folks are relying more on their gardens. There are a number of free barbecues, community events, and Stampede breakfasts that help to feed people in the community. Then as we get into the fall, folks are back to school, those gardens have run out, and we don’t have those same community events that are feeding people.”

That, she said, is where the food drive comes in: To ensure that the food bank warehouse is full and able to support Calgarians.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned about this city, and our citizens in my time living in Calgary, it is that this is an incredibly generous city. Even though everyone’s feeling that crunch of rising prices, and rising interest rates… I have no doubt that people will still find a way to give back,” From said.

“That will see us reach that half-a-million pounds, but more hopefully like 650,000 to 700,000 pounds.”

Donating as easy as leaving a bag of food on your doorstep

Calgarians who have already received their compostable bag are asked to fill it with non-perishable food items and leave it by their doorstep to be picked up by volunteers.

“We just ask that folks take some time to fill that bag up, either from your pantry or just go to your local grocery store, and pack up some cereal, some soup, some canned beans and fill that bag. Leave it on your doorstep, and between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. that bag will be picked up,” From said.

But for Calgarians who haven’t received a bag, or who live in high-rise towers or apartment complexes, From said the next best way was to donate directly at any of Calgary’s grocery stories.

For Calgarians who want to contribute in a different way, or can’t donate during the City-Wide Food Drive, she said that every $1 donated to the food bank becomes $3.50 in food for those in need because of the purchasing power the food bank has.

For more details on the 19th annual Calgary Food Bank City-Wide Food Drive, see www.calgaryfoodbank.com/citywide.