A Growing Need & The Impact on Families This Holiday Season
Over 4 million households in Canada (comprising of 2.4 million adults and about 1 million children) experience food insecurity. Food insecurity generally refers to not having enough food and/or having to eat foods with lower nutritional value. In Edmonton, 1 in 8 individuals lives in poverty. With diet-related diseases being one of the leading causes of death in Canada, food insecurity costs both the lives of many Canadians and tens of billions of dollars annually to our healthcare system.
To shed more light on the needs and ever-growing demands of the Edmonton Food Bank, I had an interview with Tamisan Bencz-Knight, Manager of Strategic Relationships and Partnerships. Tamisan has been with the Food Bank for over 20 years.
During the interview, Tamisan said that the food bank in Edmonton is experiencing added challenges as a result of factors such as the prolonged economic downturn, changes with employment (i.e. less full-time jobs being added to the market) and rising unemployment rates for many. An average of over 22,000 people are using the food bank every month in Edmonton throughout 2017. This figure was previously an average of less than 14,000 per month (2015). An increase of about 8,000 people each month. Unfortunately, these numbers are not expected to decrease soon.
As a result, Edmonton’s Food Bank needs donors more than ever before, so that they can continue their amazing efforts as well as collaborating with their community partners such as the Hope Mission, Boyle Street, and The Salvation Army. 80% of the food donations come from the food industry (i.e. major grocery stores, distributors, trucking companies etc.) and only 20% from the general public. Edmonton’s Food Bank does not receive funding from any level of government for programs or operations. The need is great in Edmonton at this time, especially difficult over the holidays; however, Edmontonians know how to rise above these types of challenges.
I have worked with clients that have a budget of only $40 a week or less for groceries. These people depend on places like the Edmonton Food Bank to supplement their diets. It is disheartening that most of these people have complex health concerns that require higher amounts of nourishing foods and diets. This is where food banks come in; however, food banks can’t do it all alone. We need to know the right items to donate for needs to be met.
The Way Out: How You Can Help Make a Difference
While making hampers at the food bank, many volunteers told me how I was lucky that I came on a good day; there was fresh food that day. A volunteer told me that last week they had such little food to work with they were having to fill the hampers with candy and chocolate bars to just fill the box. As I helped pack a hamper for a family of six, I saw the challenge of having no bread that day – just sugary pastries. Even with the better assortment of fresh food we still were forced to fill the rest of the box with candy.
As a mother, I looked at these boxes and wondered – how would this family make lunches for their children with its contents? How would the family feed and nourish themselves in the month ahead? My heart ached.
Last year to address the risks of food insecurity, we ran The Healthful Hamper Food Drive for the first time to support the food bank. We started with this idea that we would create awareness with an article and provide a food guide for people to follow not only feed but also nourish those that depend on the food bank. The Healthful Hamper Drive was such a success it raised $1100.00 in monetary donations and 1049 lbs of food for the food bank that we wanted to run it the second year in a row to do our part again this season.
After discovering the severity of food security needs in our city, last year wanted to do more than just raise awareness and provide a donation guide. I wanted to pack as much nutritious food as I could into the Food Bank this season, but I needed some help to get this organized. I reached out to my friend and fellow Nutrition Expert Danielle Gregg to run the 4th Annual Healthful Hamper Food Drive.
How to Get Involved
The Healthy Hamper Food Drive will run from December 2, 2019- December 13th, 2019. Click the link below to access your printable donation guide to meet the Food Bank’s needs and to give the gift of health.
You can also make a monetary donation if you can not drop off a food donation to our food drive which goes securely to the food bank to help them purchase holiday turkeys for all the food hampers, click here to donate securely HERE:
We reached out to three amazing community partners here in Edmonton who are also passionate and committed to the health and well-being of those in our city: Neighborhood Bridges, a Canadian School Of Natural Nutrition, Caprice West Consignment, Edmonton Burlesque Festival, The Yeg Collective, Full Spectrum Chiropractic Clinic, Fit Your Life Fitness, Lifemark Sports Institute. & Pine Integrated Health Centre. They will open their doors to become donation drop-off stations for this cause and to meet the need this season. The collection hours during the Healthy Hamper Food Drive are as follows:
The gravity of food insecurity is a wake-up call to us all to stand up together and combat the challenge. Please share this so we can fill the Food Bank this holiday season and give the gift of health. Thank you for your support.
Edmonton Food Bank Interview, Tamisan Bencz-Knight, Manager of Strategic Relationships & Partnerships.