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Tag: Food Bank

Woman with long, reddish-brown hair, places a huge head of cabbage into a refrigerator

Community Food Centre, there to help

Situated in a small part of a building just off Main Street, you’ll find the Pincher Creek and District Community Food Centre.

Although food banks in the community have come in different shapes and sizes in years past, run by a number of organizations including churches, one local group, a non-profit society with a board and a small core of volunteers, has now taken the lead.

“During Covid, the town was in transition,” says chairwoman Anne Gover. “I had some time on my hands and experience running a food bank, so I thought, what if I help set up an independent society/charitable organization? I called a few friends and here we are.”

Even with her experience, it couldn’t have been easy, with gathering restrictions in place, to set up a new society.

“I learned to use Zoom very quickly,” Anne jokes.

She credits the centre’s success, after a two-year process to complete all the necessary paperwork to become a charity, on a great board that’s excited to have a stable facility. 

Like Anne, food centre co-ordinator Kathleen Allen saw the need to have an established food bank program in the community when she joined the team.

“The previous co-ordinator [Theresa] used to come into the restaurant where I worked and she told me what she did,” Kathleen says. “Knowing there was a great need at the time, I wanted to contribute in some way to help others, so I started volunteering.”

 

Grassroots Realty Ad – – Pincher Creek Trade Show

 

Who uses the food centre?

Since starting, the centre has definitely noticed a rise in post-pandemic needs, from not only families but those considered homeless.

“Certainly in the last six months we’ve seen an increase,” Anne says.

Unlike other agencies, the Pincher Creek centre delivers food hampers twice a week rather than having clients visit the facility. 

Those in need can apply by either phone or email and a physical address is required. 

“That’s been our model since we started during Covid,” adds Anne. “Many of our clients don’t have vehicles so they appreciate the home delivery. It’s a service and it’s anonymous.”

The centre’s mission is to eliminate hunger by ensuring all community members have access to nutritious food, and while some food banks may limit donations to non-perishable products, Kathleen indicates the community food centre has a broader scope.

“We get a wide variety of foods [donated] this time of year from harvest,” she says. “We do receive a lot of fresh vegetables. Oftentimes, I’m trying to increase the fruit, vegetables and protein in a hamper to make it more nutritious, to make it part of a healthy meal.”

The society has even set up its own garden to grow produce. 

One drawback, however, is receiving donated items with past-due dates.

“We have cases where a family member has passed away, and they want to donate the food to us that’s in the cupboard,” Kathleen says.

While the gesture is appreciated, under Health Canada food guidelines, it can’t be placed into a hamper if it’s expired.

 

Ad for Creekview Dental Hygiene clinic in Pincher Creek

 

Fall food drive

On Saturday., Sept. 23, as it’s done since 2012, the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints undertook the annual tradition of collecting donations for the Pincher Creek and District Community Food Centre.

Well over two dozen members of the church and just about as many food bank volunteers turned out for the event.

The result: 3,200 pounds in product was collected, ranging from pasta and soups to rice, jams and jellies.

Another 1,950 pounds was added to the overall total from a bin set up outside of the Co-op Food Centre in the Ranchland Mall.

“This was absolutely great to see,” says Anne. “And they [the church] provide a list of items so people know what we’re in need of.”

That need, though, is growing.

 

 

Homeless in the community

As the society enters its third year of operation, it’s facing a new challenge — how to help serve the homeless population in the community.

“One of the things I think that might be helpful would be anything with a pull top,” Anne says.

“So, that could be something like stews, chili, baked beans … something that’s already fully cooked. Tuna is another example where we could give someone a can of tuna and a loaf of bread or, maybe, crackers.”

The idea is that a person may not necessarily have access to a heat source or even a can opener to cook what’s inside, but by being fully cooked it can be eaten unheated.

Anne and Kathleen say it’s something to consider if you’re looking at donating canned goods.

 

Chief Mountain Gas Ad – – Pincher Creek Trade Show

 

Other ways to help

“Cash donations are always welcome,” Kathleen says, as an option to help the food bank.

“We will often use the cash to supplement the hampers,” adds Anne. “We won’t always have milk or eggs donated, so we can purchase that ourselves.”

Another suggestion is a grocery gift card.

For those needing help, though, the door is always open and Kathleen emphasizes that no one should ever be ashamed to reach out.

“We’re there to help,” she says.

For details on how to apply for a hamper, make a donation or contribution, or become a volunteer, you can check out the group’s website: pinchercreekcommunityfoodcentre.ca.

 

Pig roast at wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

 

Bald man with grey moustache and beard lifts a box filled with food bank donations from the trunk of a vehicle.
Woman with short grey hair and dark-rimmed glasses carries two clear plastic bags filled with food bank donations
Young boy with short blond hair carries a clear plastic bag filled with food bank donations
Men and women sort groceries donated through the Fall Food Drive.
Young boy wearing a ball cap carries a clear bag filled with food bank donations in each hand.
Young boy with short brown hair carries a clear plastic bag filled with food bank donations.

Related article:

New equipment expands capacity for Food Centre

 

Table setting of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

Woman with long, dark hair puts oranges into a stand-up cooler at the Pincher Creek Food Centre

New equipment expands capacity for Food Centre

In the midst of a growing need for perishable foods, the Pincher Creek and District Community Food Centre has added two new large deep freezers and two new large stand-up coolers.

The equipment will allow the centre to store and carry more perishable items at its location, while giving those in need a greater variety of quality foods that they can receive.

Acquisition of the new equipment was made possible through the 2022 Capacity Boost Grant from Food Banks Canada, with the food centre receiving $16,800.

The centre was also able to purchase additional equipment needed for the vegetable garden that it tends with the grant money.

The Capacity Boost Grant is meant to help food banks expand its capacity to accept, distribute, grow or safely handle and store perishable and non-perishable items .

“Our board members and volunteers who helped with this worked very hard to make it all come together,” says Alice Wagenaar, a board member and volunteer for the food centre.

“This is all certainly going to make our operation a whole lot better and we’ll be able to provide better-quality food as a result of it.”

Moving forward, the food centre will be able to provide more fresh and frozen food to those within the community suffering from food insecurity and better meet their needs.

In particular, the new storage capacity for frozen foods will allow volunteers to include a greater variety of food items in their food hampers.

“It’s really nice to see the organization moving forward, expanding its capacity and just becoming a solid organization in this community,” says Alice.

The food hamper program runs throughout the year, providing those reaching out in need of food with a hamper once every two weeks.

Now that the food centre possesses the means to store large quantities of frozen and perishable foods, it is looking to run a Fill the Freezer campaign later in the month

The centre will seek to fill the freezers with meat and frozen vegetables from anyone who is in a position to donate food and help the centre provide quality foods.

“Unfortunately, this is a time when food prices are so high, and we’ve certainly had an increased demand,” says Alice.

“We have such a generous community, so we’re hoping if anyone has meat or vegetables to spare, they think about us.”

Keep an eye out on the food centre’s Facebook page for more information on the upcoming campaign and how you can help.

Those interested in volunteering at the food centre, in need of a food hamper, or with general questions about the food centre can call or text 403-632-6716 or email foodcentrepc@gmail.ca.