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Food bank for Calgary veterans to be revived by volunteers

WATCH: A group of veterans are taking matters into their own hands by opening their own food bank to replace one closing its doors in January. Blake Lough reports.

Just a few weeks after it was announced the Calgary Veterans Food Bank would be closing its doors by January of next year, volunteers have announced a new food bank will soon open to fill the void.

The new food bank will be run directly by veterans, something spokesperson Eric Nauss said is invaluable.

“When they walk into a veterans food bank and the guy sitting there has served alongside you, they know what you’ve gone through.”

News broke in July that the original food bank, managed by the Calgary Poppy Fund, would be closed as of Jan. 31, 2019. At the time, the Poppy Fund said it would take over supplying the veterans with food through Canadian Legion branch service officers.

The news came after concern swirled about veterans having to show more documentation in order to receive hampers. Monthly hamper food donations to veterans had also reduced by more than half.

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While there was no name or location for the new food bank as of Tuesday night, volunteers were confident the service would be up and running by Oct. 1.

Howard Leong, a three-year volunteer of the Veterans Food Bank, said he was shocked to hear last month the food bank would be closing and knew something had to be done to bridge the gap.

“A lot of veterans were talking about it, how can we help the vets,” he said. “We decided that… we need to have a veterans food bank, run by veterans for the veterans.”

The volunteers said Tuesday they have enough people and enough food, but are now looking for money and corporate sponsorship to get a location for the new food bank and to pay rent and utilities in the new space.

It’s hoped everything will be running smoothly by the time the current food bank closes in January.

Volunteer Dan Mclean said some veterans wouldn’t use the normal food bank, even if a veterans food bank was no longer available to them.

“[Veterans] usually won’t go to an ordinary food bank,” Mclean said. “They’ll feel like they’re taking food away from someone else who deserves it. That’s kind of the unique need for the veterans food bank.”

The food bank provides more than just food for veterans; it also distributes things like wheelchairs and crutches to those that need them.

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–With files from Global News’ Michael King