By Greg Price
In a little over a month the Taber Food Bank has gone from whispers of having to close its doors, awash in a sea of financial red, to being well into the black thanks to the generous support of the community.
Since a Taber Times story broke about the financial hardships of the Taber Food Bank on Aug. 6, Vicki Koersen, chairman for the Taber Food Bank Society, noted the community has heeded the call of the organization in need.
“The community and volunteer support has been huge. We have enough, now we are $18,000 above zero. So we went from being $25,000 in the hole, which is $43,000 we were able to raise,” said Koersen. “It means we are not in debt, but we still do not have our grant so we will still need donations until the end of the year.”
The Taber Food Bank is in the middle of its grant cycle and thinking it was a two-year grant. The society applied in June in which they were informed they could only apply every three years for the grant that helps its funding.
“That grant is $75,000 and it would have carried us like it always has,” said Koersen.
Taber Food Bank averages giving out 160 food hampers a month which helps give food to 1,000 people.
“We service Probations Canada for their hours and they are people who are also clients of the food bank. We also service food banks in the surrounding communities and individuals,” said Koersen.
Scanning over the Taber Food Bank Society minutes from its last meeting, the outpouring of support for the food bank’s plight is quite evident.
Events like the Cornfest 50/50, Food Bank Duck Race, Kinsmen Cornfest Beer Garden Recycling had a combined 97 volunteers donating 176 hours of their time.
“We raised $6,300 with our 50/50 and the duck race went well. These projects were huge and they wouldn’t have been possible without our volunteers,” said Koersen, adding there is the little known fact of the contributions farms and Hutterite colonies give as well in helping the food bank stock its shelves with healthy food.
Upcoming events for the Taber Food Bank include its fall food drive on Oct. 8 from 5:30-8 p.m.
“We need 150 volunteers to canvass the town. A week before that, there will be just like two years ago doorknob holders. There will be something that comes to the mailboxes,” said Koersen.
“It will have the five most crucial items that we need and people can leave it outside on their door knob if they want which is perfect, then we don’t have to disturb them or we can knock on the door.”
Koersen does encourage people to check the expiry date of the canned foods they wish to donate.
“It is important people check their expiry dates. We can’t take anything before 2013. Sometimes when people do their food drive stuff and go through their pantry it’s ‘oh this is grandma’s from 1960’, we have to throw them out because of health and safety regulations,” said Koersen.
Taber Food Bank Society has meetings every second Tuesday of the month at the Taber Food Bank in which Koersen encourages the public to attend.
As of today, the Taber Food Bank also has its own Web site which is up and running at http://www.taberfoodbanksociety.com.
“We got a call from an organization out of Innisfail that wanted to donate, but they were looking for a Web site, so that’s how it got started. We need a presence so people can go somewhere,” said Koersen.
“They said oil companies would donate, but you have no Web site to go to.”
Those donations can go even further through an ATB Cares initiative in which ATB will kick in an extra 15 per cent to whatever donation is given to an organization.
“It is any charitable organization in Alberta. You can just go on their Web site and you look up Taber Food Bank. You tell them what you want to donate and they’ll kick in an extra 15 per cent up to $100,000 annually,” said Koersen.
Another past fundraising initiative from last year that is coming to final fruition soon is an expanded cooler project which Koersen expects to have work done on in the next couple of weeks.
“It will be huge. There are three (loads) of potatoes people are holding on for us right now and each is 1,500 pounds. Great big bags of 20-pounds of carrots so we can’t keep them in our warehouse right now because it’s too hot and they’ll rot,” said Koersen. “Once we have this cooler, it will double the size of the cooler we have right now where we can put pallets in there. We will have more room for fresh produce.”