By Greg Price
The fall and winter chill is coming and the Taber Food Bank wants to ensure all families have the warm feeling of food in their bellies.
The Community Food Drive runs Oct. 4. in Taber and Barnwell.
“People are realizing it’s fall and our numbers are climbing. Summer is the easier months where you can barbecue and keep the heat down in your homes. But now the bills are climbing, parents have to buy supplies for school, so finances have dwindled. The demand at the food bank is climbing and we are always looking for food,” said Kathy Boersma, Taber Food Bank manager. “Our biggest needs are the pasta and the dry foods. Those are the prime ingredients that go into our hampers. We love our clients and we want to do our best for them.”
The Taber Food Bank has been fortunate to have the support of the Community Vegetable Garden project which brought in over 24,000 pounds of fresh produce in the summer, nearly triple the output of the previous year’s pilot project.
“That has been a real blessing to the food bank because we could actually feed families in need healthy vegetables, salads, those types of things which we don’t have the budget for as a small food bank,” said Boersma. “It’s nice to see healthy eating. We do see a lot of illness which is part of the reason why some need the food bank. Both grocery stores in Taber, Wal-Mart, Hutterite colonies and farmers have also been so kind to us. When there is an opportunity, they contact us.”
Nevertheless, the need at the Taber Food Bank is always ongoing, as statistics show. Summer saw a peak of 162 hampers being issued in August with 225 adults and 110 children being helped, compared to 149 hampers in June.
“We are seeing a lot more working poor, people making minimum wage who are not making it by the time the utilities and the rent are taken care of, with minimal money left over for food purchasing,” said Boersma.
The Community Food Drive on Wednesday, Oct. 4, will start at 5:30 p.m. in which the Taber and Barnwell areas will be canvassed, and will go until 9:30 p.m.
While canvassers will be knocking on doors or ringing doorbells, to speed up the process or if one is not expected to be around when the food drive is happening, volunteers are encouraging people to leave their donations on their doorsteps/front porches.
“We will have a top-10 list of things we hope to have in those bags, but we are happy with anything,” said Tamara Miyanaga, board member of the Taber Food Bank.
The Taber Food Bank does ask that you check the expiration dates of any item you have before deciding to donate.
“If you are not going to eat it because it’s expired, don’t expect others to eat it and for us to give it out to clients,” said Matilda Van Huizen, a board member with the Taber Food Bank. “We don’t want to have to end up garbaging things or risk people getting sick from eating it. It defeats the whole purpose of the food drive.”
Apart from food items, the Taber Food Bank will also take care items like toiletries or for childcare.
“Children’s things, baby things like diapers, baby food. Even food items for people with specific diet requirements like diabetics,” said Van Huizen. “We will take many different things. Just think of things you would use in your everyday life and we would need those items as well.”
Volunteers are encouraging people to leave their dogs inside during the food drive for safety reasons.
The food drive is broken into routes with a minimum of one driver and one or two runners into each route. The Taber Food Bank is still looking for volunteers for its food drive.
“We found each route will take between 45 minutes to an hour to complete and we have 93 routes. If we were able to get 93 drivers and 186 runners and we would have the Town of Taber and the Village of Barnwell, if they all came at the same time, we would have the whole area blanketed in an hour,” said Van Huizen. “Community service groups, sports teams, church or youth groups, parents or grandparents with kids or grandkids who are interested in giving back to their community, everyone is welcome to lend a hand. We’ve been amazed at the turnout in the past.”
Apart from the food in the food drive, Taber Food Bank is also taking cash donations where any donation $20 or more is issued a tax-deductible receipt.
“The cash donations allow us to optimize our purchasing power so that we can get the best bang for our buck for the food bank. We have seen an increase in our numbers will continue to go up and we continue into the winter,” said Miyanaga.
Taber Food Bank President Kevin Leahy is amazed at how the Taber area answers the call year in and year out to help those in need in the food gap that the organization helps bridge.
“Our community always steps up when here is a need. We are very humbled,” said Leahy. “The business community too. I can never get over how our businesses donate. Every group is hitting them up for something for whatever. They are all wonderful causes and they still donated to us. It is very, very humbling.”
Those wanting to volunteer for the Taber Food Bank Community Food Drive, you can call Matilda Van Huizen at 403-332-0822 or you can find her on Facebook.