The Chestermere Regional Food Bank is preparing for the hectic back to school season with a variety of opportunities for residents to donate needed items.
Foodbank donations can be made on Aug 17 during the Pack the Patrol Car event at Safeway, or the Show & Shine on Aug 24, along with bins donations which can be made year-round.
“The events we are attending are not ones that have been organized by us. These events are ones we have been invited to be a presence at as people support the food bank,” said Chestermere Regional Food Bank President Laurie Dunn.
She added volunteers have been working throughout the year to bring awareness to programs and getting residents to recognize there is a need in the community for the food bank.
The food bank will have a table set up to raise awareness of programs, during the annual Show & Shine.
“A portion of the proceeds from the Show & Shine the lakeside cruisers give back to the food bank,” Dunn said.
During the second annual Pack the Patrol Car event, shoppers will be encouraged to purchase needed items from a shopping list provided by volunteers.
“The idea is for people to buy groceries to fill the patrol cars, once they are full the peace officers will deliver it to the food bank,” Dunn said.
Shopping lists were given out during the Spring Food Drive and were extremely helpful in gathering items that the food bank desperately needed, but people don’t think about some of the incidental things.
“We never have jam and jelly. Crackers always seem to be a tough go, and we never get honey,” Dunn said.
“We certainly would never turn away any kind of food,” she added. “People don’t think about things like toilet paper, or feminine hygiene products, but we still need that stuff too.”
Throughout the summer, the Chestermere Regional Food Bank has been busy with the After the Bell Program, which provides children in the community snack packs during the summer.
The After the Bell program is designed for children to receive nutritious snacks while out of school.
“We do the school programs during the year, and once school is out there isn’t food readily available for kids who need it,” Dunn said.
“After the Bell bridges that gap,” she added.
The After the Bell program food packs are provided by Food Banks Canada and are available Wednesday afternoons for children.
“It’s healthy snacks, supplemented with fruit, or cheese strings that we purchase to go in the packs,” Dunn said.
In addition to the After the Bell program, the Chestermere Regional Food Bank has also begun harvesting select vegetables from the community and rural gardens.
“We’ve harvested a few things, lettuce is really quick, soon it will be time to do the beets, and the carrots,” Dunn said.
“It’s been fairly steady,” she said.
At the beginning of the summer volunteers passed out many seeds for the Grow a Row program, where residents grow produce in their own gardens for the food bank.
“Hopefully, we’ll start seeing the vegetables come from the people who took seeds for the Grow a Row program for the food bank,” Dunn said.
Moving forward, the Chestermere Regional Food Bank is seeking volunteers who are committed to working during weekday evenings.
“We have a lot of great volunteers who can come to events but what we seem to be lacking is somebody who can come in on weekday nights,” Dunn said.
“With back to school coming that’s going to be a big thing, and back to school snacks for kids’ lunches are on our shopping lists,” she said.
Along with volunteering, donations are always helpful for the food bank, as it allows volunteers to purchase items, they are short of, or require weekly including fresh meat, produce, yogurt, milk, and eggs.
With the Christmas season approaching, Chestermere residents are encouraged to register any events to raise funds for the food bank on the website at http://chestermerefoodbank.ca/.
“Please register so the food bank can help with food bins, pick-ups or advertising the event,” Dunn said.