The Calgary Food Bank hosted its 19th annual Citywide Food Drive starting on Saturday to try and fill its shelves for residents experiencing food insecurity.
For one week, over 8,000 volunteers will deliver donation bags to homes across the city. Calgarians participating in the food drive will fill the bags with non-perishable food and leave the bags on their driveways.
The volunteers will then pick up the donations and bring them back to the food bank, where they will be sorted and distributed to Calgarians.
“I think everyone’s feeling the crunch. We’ve got inflation and rising mortgage rates and grocery prices are through the roof and gas prices are through the roof. And so it’s been pretty challenging to meet the demand,” said Melissa From, chief executive officer of the Calgary Food Bank.
“We’re seeing a lot more folks coming to the food bank and needing help, and we’re particularly seeing an increase in working Calgarians who are trying to make ends meet.”
Don Ray, regional coordinator for the Citywide Food Drive, told Global News some routes will involve pickups from 100 to 200 homes.
“This is one of the largest food drives in Canada, probably in North America,” he said. “Our first meeting was in the last week of April, and we’ve been working on this ever since … Of course, the last two months have been the busiest time for a coordinating food drive, but without all the volunteers, we couldn’t do any of this.”
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From said the food bank is aiming for 500,000 pounds in donations on Saturday, but noted rising grocery prices may make it hard for some to donate.
“I believe in the spirit of Calgary and the generosity of our community, so I’m still gunning for that (goal),” she said. “I think we’re just starting to see some folks who would normally contribute to the food bank may be finding themselves in a situation where they need to use the food bank.”
Becky Elkabir has been volunteering her time to the Citywide Food Drive for nine years. She told Global News it is an opportunity to give back to those who are struggling from food insecurity.
“It teaches our kids to give back to the community,” she said. “Right now, it’s a difficult time for many families. It seem like it’s tougher every year, but every year our cars are full and we’re just happy to be able to bring so much back.”