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    Raising awareness in the community

    The Chestermere Regional Food Bank is implementing new practices following the Annual General Meeting (AGM), on April 15.

    The AGM is used to explain the financial position of the food bank, to recruit new people and to raise awareness in the community.

    “Chestermere’s number one humanities resource is the food bank,” said Chestermere Regional Food Bank President Laurie Dunn.

    Throughout the year, the food bank has to overcome many challenges such as raising awareness as to why the community needs a food bank.

    “The reality of it is the affluent population in Chestermere is probably one or two per cent. Everyone else is middle class and below,” Dunn said.

    Another challenge the food bank always faces is bringing awareness to the community that they offer summer programs, and school programs, not just food hampers.

    “We try to attend as many events as we can, we have partnered up with the first responders who are trying to raise awareness and help with the larger food drives,” Dunn said.

    She added, last year the food bank made significant progress in raising awareness by attending community events, speaking at schools, and posting on social media.

    “There are so many more programs that we could be doing if we had more help and more funding,” said the Executive Director of the Chestermere Regional Food Bank Mardi Oel.

    After the AGM, Dunn and the board of directors for the Chestermere Regional Food Bank created a list of internal and external goals, they want to achieve throughout the year.

    Those goals include continuing to post on social media, updating bylaws, organizing spring food drives, planting the community garden, identifying funding needs and opportunities that are available to develop a long-term plan, and developing simple recipes that residents can use with items in their food hampers.

    “We have a bunch of lofty goals to fit in with all the other things we do,” Dunn said.

    A top priority for Dunn and the board of directors is ensuring that the donations residents make to the food bank are being sent to the food bank.

    “We want to try to mediate that going forward, and we want to promote registering your event,” Dunn said.

    Now the Chestermere Regional Food Bank is looking for more volunteers who can help with collecting donations and events.

    “Volunteers are the heartbeat of every single organization,” Dunn said.

    “We appreciate all the volunteers for all that they do, we also appreciate the community for their overwhelming support,” she added.

    Currently, the Chestermere Regional Food Bank is preparing for a food drive in early June, which will ensure the shelves are full for the summer months.

    “We have a food drive the first two weeks of June because every food bank is empty, donations have slowed down to a point where July and August food banks struggle,” Oel said.

    Many Residents are always very anxious to donate to the food bank during the fall leading up to the holidays. However, once the holidays are over, there is still a need.

    “We have wonderful support from our local grocery stores, and residents who drop off donations, it’s appreciated,” Dunn said.

    Going forward, Dunn is excited for the opportunity to be the Chestermere Regional Food Bank President.

    “Feeding people is super important to me. I was looking for a way to give back to my community, and the food bank fit with me feeding people because that’s what I like to do,” Dunn said.

    Dunn is confident with her business background, and manager history that she can bring organization and practices to the food bank.

    “For me, it’s a good fit. I’m everywhere in the community. I just felt like I had something to offer,” she said.