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Calgary Veterans Food Bank closing next year

The Calgary Veterans Food Bank will be closing down in January of 2019.

A vital Calgary food bank will be shutting down next year.

Calgary-area veterans who use the services of the Calgary Veterans Food Bank will no longer be able to access the bank as of Jan. 31, 2019, sources told Global News.

Earlier this year concerns were raised about how veterans had to show more documentation in order to get hampers. Hamper food donations to veterans had reduced by more than half.

READ MORE: Poppy under pressure: Where is the money going?

The veterans food bank is managed by the Calgary Poppy Fund.

David Klug, spokesperson for the Alberta-Northwest Territories Royal Canadian Legion command, said the Poppy Fund will now take over serving all veterans through the Canadian Legion branch service officers.

“The Calgary Poppy Fund board of directors has decided to initiate the orderly wind down of the veterans food bank to more closely alliance operations with the poppy manual and to focus resources where they can be more effective and efficient in their objectives to support veterans,” Klug said.

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“What that will allow us to do, what the Poppy Fund will be able to do more effectively now with those resources, is to approach supports to veterans on a more holistic basis.

“Those veterans do have access to those officers even now, so this is not a new service, it’s just devoting those resources to the programming that those officers will be able to offer where appropriate.”

READ MORE: Poppy under pressure: Calgary Poppy Fund letter alleges ‘embarrassing’ misuse of donations

There is one service officer per Canadian Legion Branch. At this time there are no plans to increase staff, and several people currently working at the Veterans Food Bank will be out of work, according to Klug.

“They’ve been provided that six months notice and the Poppy Fund will be working with them to them transition during the period. But unfortunately, it does mean that there will be some positions cut,” Klug said.

Melanie Mitra, CEO of Canadian Legacy Project — which used to run an annual food drive for the food bank — said many people are confused by the decision.

“When you know veterans require a unique solution around this particular area of need, they’re not going to go to a mainstream food bank,” she said.

“And you know that the Calgary community has been unbelievably supportive, then why wouldn’t you figure out a solution?

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“It got the community quite worked up, but I’m confident we’ll find a solution. That’s what the Canadian Legacy Project is focused on once we get past some of the confusion.”

The charity said they are now considering “solutions” to the pending closure, and added that Calgarians have always been very supportive of veterans in need.

— With files from Global News’ Joanne Reid