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Multiple parties step forward after sudden closure of Calgary Veteran’s Food Bank

WATCH: A handful of groups are coming forward in the wake of an abrupt shutdown of a critical service for veterans. The Calgary Veteran's Food Bank has closed its doors months ahead of schedule, leaving many confused about where to turn. Jill Croteau reports.

Following an abrupt early closure of the Veteran’s Food Bank in Calgary on Friday, more groups are offering to help.

Last week, many were shocked to discover the Veteran’s Food Bank doors were locked. Officials had announced the closure earlier this month but said they would remain open until the end of January.

Allan Reid, with a newly formed group called Veterans Food Bank of Calgary, is looking for public support and said the group is rushing to open a facility.

“We thought we had until Jan. 31 but now that deadline was last Thursday, so we are scrambling,” Reid said. “But within the next week, we should be ready to go.”

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He’s frustrated with how it was handled.

“To put a note on a door to say ‘we are closed’ is counter-productive. Their mission is to support veterans and obviously they’re failing in that respect,” Reid said.

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A sign reading, “CLOSED GO TO YOUR NEAREST LEGION,” was seen on the door of the 6 Street N.E. location on Friday.
A sign reading, “CLOSED GO TO YOUR NEAREST LEGION,” was seen on the door of the 6 Street N.E. location on Friday. Nate Luit/Global News

The NWT-Alberta Legion Command said the board decided it would be best to let staff at the Veteran’s Food Bank go now and pay them until the end of January. Spokesperson David Klug told Global News that, with volunteers and only one remaining paid employee, there weren’t enough people to keep the doors open for drop-ins.

Instead, veterans in need are being instructed to go to their nearest legion and contact a service officer for assistance.

Veteran Paul Daniels is working with Allan Reid on a new food bank proposal. Having accessed the food bank during some rough times, he knows how critical the need is.

Veteran Paul Daniels is joining forces with others to re-open the food bank.
Veteran Paul Daniels is joining forces with others to re-open the food bank. Nate Luit/Global News

“It was a godsend,” Daniels said. “Without that, as it was, there were days I would go without food but with them, I kept heart and soul together.”

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And Daniels wants to do whatever he can to fill the need.

“I want to give back, not payback,” Daniels added. “I want to help my brothers and sisters because it took me a long time and it shouldn’t have.”

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The Calgary Food Bank hopes it can help in the interim. CEO James McAra told Global News the group is available to meet the needs of veterans.

“We are currently involved in important conversations with the many different parties about how we can support and consult,” said McAra.

A group of veterans met Monday night to discuss the food bank’s future.
A group of veterans met Monday night to discuss the food bank’s future. Global News

A group of veterans met Monday night to discuss the food bank’s future.

Paul Hughes, a veteran involved in the meeting, said veterans decided to move forward independently.

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“I think Calgarians will be happy to hear that veterans have taken on their own course and their own destiny as far as the food bank is concerned,” he said.

“We just decided to become an independent organization and we’re going to seek the support of corporations and organizations around the city.”

— With files from Kaylen Small