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Food bank for Calgary veterans in desperate need of food, cash donations

The Veterans Association Food Bank in northeast Calgary is at a crisis point. As Doug Vaessen reports, they’re urging people to donate both food and money.

Calgary’s Veterans Association Food Bank is urging people to donate to their organization, saying they’re at a “crisis point” and desperately in need of food and money.

The food bank recently moved to a new location in the 800 block of 28 Street Northeast, and although they have lots of space, their shelves are bare.

The program, run by veterans, gives out about 40 food hampers a month. However, organizers expect as the holiday season approaches the number of hampers they’ll need to give out will climb to 200.

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Veterans association founder Marie Blackburn said they continue to see new veterans every day who require their services.

“We are at a crisis point,” Blackburn said. “Unfortunately, the numbers of veterans we help daily continues to grow, and as that grows so does the need for food and financial assistance.”

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“We need to stock our shelves. Our hampers have been going out the door fairly rapidly. We have seen a huge increase in the younger population coming in to access food.”

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Allan Hunter from the food bank said one of their biggest challenges is overcoming the idea that veterans are “grandfathers” or “great-grandfathers.”

“We have 6,700 Afghanistan veterans,” Hunter explained. “I was talking to a veteran last week that just had his 28th birthday, a couple of tours in Afghanistan, he was ‘going dark’ — and ‘going dark’ means he lost hope and he was going to take his life.”

“Suicide is not an acceptable solution for our soldiers.”

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The Veterans Association Food Bank is about more than just food. It offers peer support programs, volunteer opportunities, individual emergency funding support, training programs and a sober living gathering place.

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Blackburn said in addition to food donations, they’re in need of money to help run those programs.

“Just making sure our veterans aren’t going to become homeless, that’s one of our biggest focuses right now,” she said.

“A lot of our funding this year went to prevent homelessness, prevent suicides, making sure our veterans have a safe and welcoming place to come to. We found a lot of veterans come here because they have their brotherhood back and that is the most important thing for them right now.”

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To donate food, you can visit any Calgary Police Service station, Calgary Fire Department station or Calgary legion. Other donation locations can be found on the Calgary’s Veterans Association Food website.

Cash donations can be made online or directly at the food bank.