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Food drive more important than ever

The annual fall Food Drive for the St. Albert Food Bank takes place on Saturday, Sept. 19.

FOOD BANK WISH LIST

• Baby formula

• Canned fruit

• Canned meats/fish

• Canned milk/powdered milk

• Canned soups and dry soup cups

• Canned tomatoes

• Canned vegetables

• Coffee

• Crackers

• Diapers (all sizes)

• Flour

• Fruit cups/pudding cups

• Granola bars

• Hamburger helper

• Jam and peanut butter

• Kraft Dinner

• Oatmeal and instant breakfast oatmeal

• Pancake mix and syrup

• Pasta sauce

• Personal care items

• Salt

• Side Kicks

• Sugar

• Tea

• Tomato paste

In addition to those items, it also accepts fresh produce and frozen food as the food bank has both a walk-in cooler and freezer.

For more information or to make a request for a hamper, please call 780-459-0599 or visit stalbertfoodbankandcommunityvillage.com.

There’s a lot that’s new at the St. Albert Food Bank but not all of it is good news.

The facility has been undergoing extensive renovations to increase its storage capacity while also enhancing spaces for other community purposes. There’s a new mezzanine with a multipurpose meeting room, new racks that can hold more food (100 pallets’ worth, up from 60), a new elevator and kitchenette, and new electricals, plumbing and HVAC beyond what’s visible.

It also has a new garage to accommodate its fleet of two cube vans.

The team at Johnston Builders are incredible, said executive director Suzan Krecsy, noting that they kept things to ‘business as usual’ even during the tumultuous early days of the first wave. She also praised her hardy volunteers.

What isn’t new: the need. It’s ever-present and on a constant rise.

“We are certainly looking forward to the drive,” she said.

There are more than 1,000 families in its database and she’s seeing more and more new families being added – between 20 and 30 new ones each month.

These are people who have been hit hard by the downturn in the economy, coupled with the challenges of making do with less because CERB payments are lower than what they would have earned on the job.

“It was hard to keep up with all the bills. It kept their heads above water, but it was hard to keep up with everything. And that emotional toll that COVID has taken on folks is really something as well,” she continued, referring to the rise in reports of abuse.

At least people are reporting it and reaching out for help, she noted, calling it a “silver lining.”

“There's enough community response, and I'm just pushing 'Community, community, community’ ... this big community response. It's everybody getting together to help everybody because we don't even know what's going to come down the pipe if there's a second wave. What is it going to look like? How are people going to respond? We all have to be ready for it. No siloing,” she continued, using the other word for the practice of stockpiling.

“It's getting together and helping each other as a community. I think St. Albert is well known to be able to be quite comfortable doing that. I can see the response will be quick and it'll be effective, but it's just being prepared for it.”

The food bank itself isn’t stockpiling but rather being conscious of how much food is being given out in each hamper and how much food stays in its stores.

To help with those preparations, and really just to keep the food bank going while demand rises and rises, the annual food drive is set to take place on Saturday, Sept. 19. Residents are encouraged to fill grocery bags with non-perishable food items and leave them on their doorsteps by noon that day for volunteers from the Red Willow Community Church to come and collect them.

If your bag doesn't get collected, please call the food bank at 780-459-0599. You can also drop it off at any grocery store or fire hall.

Krecsy thanked the community for always being responsive to the need that it serves, something that was especially demonstrated in the spring as part of the T8N100Men challenge that brought in nearly $140,000 to beef up the food bank’s bank account.

“It’s incredible how people responded to help our families. Because you're not responding to the food bank: you’re responding to our families. That wraparound that they gave our families was amazing.”


Scott Hayes

About the Author: Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.
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