By Greg Price
For Taber Times
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Taber Food Bank, and to earmark the occasion, the organization is dreaming big. “We are setting a goal of raising $39,000 for our Coldest Night of the Year event. It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year and so we have big aspirations,” said Craig Hansen, president of Taber Food Bank Society.
Food banks across the nation are feeling the after effects of COVID, with many food items doubling in price with demand for food bank services doubling as well. “You really see the impact at ground level when you see the increased foot traffic for our day to day operations,” said Mary Van Geest, assistant manger of Taber Food Bank and a co-ordinator for Coldest Night of the Year in Taber.
According to the Taber Food Bank AGM minutes from 2022, concentrated fundraising efforts like Coldest Night of the Year make up nearly 15 per cent of the organization’s yearly revenue to run the worthwhile cause, making the event crucial to the food bank’s long-term viability. “We are grateful the community supports CNOY as our major fundraiser, and we look forward to the donors and walkers at the event. It is critical to maintain Food Bank operations.” said Tamara Miyanaga, member of the Taber Food Bank Society.
Coldest Night of the Year is a family-friendly event that goes February 24, and starts at 4 pm with registration at the Taber Community Centre Grey room. The walk starts at 5 pm where participants can do either a 2 or 5-km walk in their choosing of established routes by organizers. Participants collect sponsors, or if a business would like to sponsor, they are recognized for their part on social media. “It’s a fun event that is short and sweet, with a tremendous impact. Hunger doesn’t take a vacation,” said Van Geest.
Participants are encouraged to dress warm to enjoy the walk with family and friends. “We want participants to be as warm as our hearts in the appreciation we have seeing the community support. Be it Coldest Night of the Year, Stuff-a-Bus, Vegetable Garden, Candy Cane Drive, Cornfest 50/50… the list goes on and so does a very giving Taber, Barnwell and M.D. spirit in seeing the importance of food security for the disadvantaged.” In 2022, over 66,501 pounds ($213,468.21) of food were distributed through the monthly hamper program for the food bank and the amount was significantly higher in 2023. With the 809 hampers that were distributed in 2022, 475 unique individuals spanning 220 households were served. Of the clientele, 68 per cent are seniors, children or those who identify as having a disability. The pickshelf program had 5,669 visits—an average of 472 visits per month in 2022. It gave out an average of 9,346 pounds of food per month. “Every bit of support is making a difference, as we prepare for what is expected to be the largest food need,” said Naomi Wiebe, manager of Taber Food Bank.
If you would like to sign up for Coldest Night of the Year, or would like to learn more information on the initiative, please call 403.223.1833 or go to https://cnoy.org/location/taber