By Greg Price
For Taber Times
Winter is coming…. and so is the chilling realization of struggling food security for Albertans.
But there is the warmth of caring organizations like the Taber Food Bank.
In 2023, there were troubling numbers never seen before, with 1.9 million visits to food banks across Canada in March alone. That marked a 32 per cent increase compared to last year, and a whopping 78 per cent increase compared to 2019.
The numbers mirror the Taber area on a local micro level. In 2021, the Taber Food Bank gave out approximately 7,700 pounds of food per month through the Pickshelf program. In 2022, that number increased to 9,350 pounds (about half the weight of a school bus) per month. In just two short years, the numbers have nearly doubled to 13,705 pounds (about twice the weight of an elephant) per month through the Pickshelf program, with 706 visits to the program per month.
“There have been so many stressors since the COVID lockdown on families. Loss of employment, underemployment, inflation, skyrocketing costs not just of food but other essentials as well. Food bank use is seeing increased use across increasing socio-economic groups,” said Naomi Wiebe, manager of the Taber Food Bank. “Luckily, the Taber area has been very generous to the Taber Food Bank, and we are hoping they will continue to be this holiday season.”
The Holiday Smile Cookie Campaign goes Nov. 13-19 at Taber’s Tim Hortons where 50 per cent of the proceeds go directly to the Taber Food Bank with the other 50 per cent going to Tim Hortons Foundation camps.
“It is a great campaign that satisfies the sweet tooth for a sweet cause,” said Wiebe. “We are taking pre-orders.”
The first Tuesday of December on Dec. 5 sees the Stuff a Bus event featured at both IGA and Co-Op. First Student will have buses on hand at both locations where two schools are helping out volunteering stuffing those buses with food donations from the public.
“We do it always on cheaper grocery Tuesdays to try and stretch those donations as much as we can in the generosity of our food donors who do their own grocery shopping at the same time,” said Wiebe. “We are waiting to hear back from a couple more schools and we would love more volunteers.”
Other campaigns that will aid the Taber Food Bank are the Knights of Columbus helping with hamper distribution on Dec. 19-20 for registered households. The New Year will see the Taber Food Bank do its Coldest Night of the Year fundraising walk on Feb. 24, 2024.
“We have so many kind-hearted people here in the Taber and M.D. area, and we hope that trend will continue, because as the numbers show, we need that giving spirit now more than ever,” said Wiebe.