The Rotary Club of Chestermere provided the Chestermere Food Bank with a freezer, so they can receive bulk meat and other frozen items.
“The Chestermere Food Bank is grateful for the ongoing support of the Rotary Club in Chestermere. Because the demand for our services has increased since the onset of the pandemic, we found our freezer space was stretched to the limit,” said the President of the Chestermere Food Bank, Laurie Dunn.
She added, “The new freezer will allow us the flexibility to participate in the Food Bank’s Alberta food sharing program where we can access large scale corporate donations, purchases of high demand food and Food Bank Canada’s national food sharing system.”
Each year, the Rotary Club of Chestermere asks for the Chestermere Food Bank’s wish list of items they need.
“Rotary feels that our food bank does such amazing work in our community, they are always thinking outside the box, trying to find solutions as the needs arise, but they can’t do this alone,” Karen McKee said.
“They need help and along with food donations, they need operational supplies and equipment. To help them do their job more efficiently, and safer, every year we ask them for their wish list for anything they need for operational equipment,” she said.
Last year, the Rotary Club of Chestermere provided a safety ladder to ensure the Chestermere Food Bank volunteers could do their job safely.
“This year, they told us they needed a freezer for meat, so we provided it for them,” McKee said.
“With the extra storage capacity, our volunteer shoppers will be able to buy in bulk, reducing cost and reducing time and fuel spent in many shopping trips each week,” said the Chestermere Food Bank Executive Director, Mardi Oel.
The new freeze is currently holding several pounds of ground bison, and Oel is excited to have the capacity to store other wild game for clients.
“Normally, we don’t accept wild game simply because our clients are unfamiliar with it. In November, we began a comprehensive diversity and inclusion procedure where we asked each client to fill in a list whereby, we can determine the cultural and ethnic needs of each client,” Oel said.
“We then researched the various ethnic groups and have a list of their staples. Since then, depending on the client, we will buy okra as well as celery, Bok Choy, and lettuce,” she said.
Adding, “We now have the capacity to bulk up on Halal meats rather than run out and buy it when we’re expecting those clients.”
The Chestermere Food Bank is also now offering a Vegetable of the Month post, giving each client a recipe incorporating the featured vegetable, providing all ingredients, and how to prepare it.
“The donation will not only save us time and money but will also result in education and awareness for all Chestermere and area residents,” Oel said.
Each year, the Rotary Club of Chestermere has a budget for all of the organizations earmarked to support.
“If they need more than what we budgeted, we go back to our budget to see if we can provide that. We’re more than willing to look at an extra amount, should they need it,” McKee said.
“The need is higher, and donations are lower during COVID-19,” she said.
In order to receive a Rotary Club of Chestermere donation, the organization must meet one of the seven main focus areas, including Peace and Conflict Prevention and Resolution, Disease Prevention and Treatment, Water and Sanitation, Maternal and Child Health, Basic Education and Literacy, Economic and Community Development, and Environmental.
“We look to that first, to see if they fit into that. With such a broad-based focus area, we would be hard-pressed to find something that didn’t fit,” McKee said.
All of the club members are then invited to give their input and review the yearly budget and donations.
“We’re really grateful to the food bank, staff, and volunteers for all of the hard work, love, care, and compassion that they put into making sure the needs are met in the community,” McKee said.
“I know they sometimes have very little to work with, sometimes they have some real struggles, but it doesn’t seem to stop them, they find a way, she added. “Being able to support them in any way is really an honour for us.”