A Food Bank First: Hampers for Renal Care

In conjunction with Alberta Health Services, the Calgary Food Bank is the first food bank in Canada to create a specialty food hamper that provides the basics of a kidney-conscious diet specifically for clients with chronic renal issues.

It’s no surprise that the chronically ill are often the most food insecure in our community. Because food insecurity is inadequate or unstable access to nutritious food, often due to lack of income, Canadians who are moderately to severely food insecure are more likely to report chronic health problems.

Calgary Food Bank clients who are part of the Southern Alberta Renal Program (SARP) cannot eat 40 per cent of items in a normal Calgary Food Bank hamper, despite the nutritious value, because of their sensitivity to salt and processed foods. To correct this, we had to learn more about what it means to live with kidney issues and work with Alberta Health Services and certified nutritionists to develop a unique hamper for Calgarians struggling with food insecurity and chronic kidney disease.

In the first week of the Kidney Hamper launch, the food bank provided three hampers to kidney failure clients — which is more than we anticipated. It’s predicted that more than 20 hampers will be given out each month.

Kidney hampers

Our new Renal Hampers provide healthy, low in sodium food options while eliminating foods with high potassium as well as minimal processed foods. Nutrition Services Population and Public Health (PPH RD) worked closely with us on key foods issues and what to include and exclude from the specialty hampers.

Renal Hampers include:

  • Juice
  • Almond Milk
  • Oatmeal
  • Two boxes of white pasta
  • Two cans of beans
  • Two cans of tuna
  • Tomato sauce
  • Two loafs of white bread

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is the presence of kidney damage, and diets need to be altered to keep blood pressure down to avoid further kidney damage, kidney failure or even death. But it’s not just CKD that causes kidney issues. According to Alberta Health Services, Albertans who have diabetes develop end stage renal failure 10 to 15 times more than people without diabetes. People suffering from CKD are not able to clean blood as well and cannot remove waste products as efficiently, therefore a buildup of sodium, potassium, phosphorus and the by-products of protein metabolism occur.

Donald Barker, registered dietitian with Alberta Health Services says, “If people with chronic kidney diseases do not follow a specific diet plan, they will need to go on kidney dialysis because their kidneys will eventually fail altogether.”

Clients in need of Kidney Hampers go through a referral process the same as all clients but receive the hampers through a home delivery service.

PRH RD will be coordinating an evaluation of content and service by clients with the Calgary Food Bank in the first year.

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