Additional funding has prompted a local food bank to hand out an extra special hamper to those in need this Thanksgiving.
Karen Milne, Oilfields Food Bank director of communications, said the registered charity received $12,550 in federal funds during the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning it can give more than the usual amount to those needing an extra hand during these tough economic times.
“These federal funds are distributed to provincial food banks who then disburse them to their member food banks and we want to make sure that all of the funds that come in get distributed to the users,” Milne said. “There’s been an influx of government money, which normally we don’t see. I don’t have the details of which companies, trusts or groups have made donations into this fund, but we are grateful for the added support during this tenuous time.”
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, and the fall months typically seeing a high demand for food due to seasonal jobs ending and extra costs associated with children returning to school, Milne said volunteers decided to supply specialty Thanksgiving hampers this season.
“We’re keeping it simple - it’s not nearly as fulsome or complete as our Christmas hampers,” she said. “They will have a choice of turkey or ham and some food items to complete a meal, as well as a small grocery gift card so if there are other things they need they can go and pick them up.”
To get the word out, Oilfields Food Bank volunteers are reaching out to the approximately 100 recipients of last year’s Christmas hampers and to residents currently utilizing the service.
“We’re trying to make sure that everyone who needs one gets one,” she said. “September is usually a month when we see an increase in clients using the food bank. Once school fees kick in and busing fees and all of those things, that’s when people feel strained.”
While Oilfields Food Bank volunteers expected to see an increase in need during the COVID-19 pandemic, Milne said the demand hasn’t changed from last year. She attributes it to the government’s Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program, which gives financial support to employed and self-employed Canadians who’ve been directly affected by COVID-19.
Volunteers also expected a decline in support, yet Milne said donations from individuals and businesses in the community are as strong as ever.
“Nobody seems to have forgotten about food banks at this particular time,” she said. “Everybody, by and large, is looking at ways to help and certainly groups and individuals are looking for ways to help ensure people are being fed.”
Milne said the Humane Society continues to offer pet food and the Alberta Dental Association and College has been donating toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss during the pandemic.
“It seems to me that there are more diverse people and groups giving this year than there were before,” she said. “We always had those who have been donating a long time, but we seem to have some new ones on board.”
Milne said donors who have stood by the Oilfields Food Bank for years are finding new ways to continue offering their support. For instance, Pharmasave Black Diamond is donating a dollar from each delivery it makes to the food bank, she said.
“It’s neat the way people are looking around and saying, ‘Here is something we can do,’ she said. “It’s certainly meeting the need.”
Requests for the Thanksgiving food hampers must be made in advance online or by calling 403-612-1291. Hampers will be ready for pick up in the Lewis Memorial United Church parking lot Oct. 6 between 9 a.m. and noon.
The Oilfields Food Bank, which serves Turner Valley, Black Diamond, Longview, Millarville, Priddis and the surrounding area, will begin accepting requests for its Christmas hampers starting on Oct. 13.
For more details about the Oilfields Food Bank visit www.oilfieldsfoodbank.com
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